Day 12 – You Reap What You Sow
And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
– James 3:18
Years ago, I spent time pastoring in a rural farming community in western Nebraska. The years there were predictable in their cycles. Since it was largely a corn farming community, every spring meant planting, the summer consisted of watering, and with the fall came harvest. The spring meant countless hours of hard work for the farmers: tilling the earth, getting the right seed depth, and praying that the frost doesn’t set in to ruin things before they get started. Summertime meant going around checking pivots to make sure the water flowed and the crops were not overcome with a blight. Additionally, it meant a lot of praying that the hail would pass by your fields. After months of watching, tending, and waiting, the fruit of the hard work came to the farmer. Harvest time was certainly a time where I rarely saw my parishioners, for the harvest was difficult and time-consuming work. But at the end of the harvest season, there was a time of rejoicing, and let me tell you, there isn’t much better than fresh sweet corn you picked with your bare hands...not to mention the creamed corn that awaited one’s taste buds.
The apostle James gives us a beautiful picture of what it looks for followers of Christ to similarly plant and reap a harvest based upon the wisdom that is from the Lord. In the third chapter of his epistle, James asks his readers who among them is wise, and shows them that it is the one who is willing to commit themselves to acts of righteousness. He also contrasts the fruit of righteousness and the fruit that comes from demonic influences. Then, once he has defined true wisdom from God, he applies his word with his farming metaphor we see in verse 18. It is possible that James had in mind the idea of fruit being harvested and then, in part, becoming seed, which is resown in peace, as it were, and produces still more fruit, and so on, in the familiar cycle of sowing and reaping. Just as the corn farmers in western Nebraska saw their cycle of planting, watering, and harvesting take place year after year, so will the faithful followers of Christ who desire to plant the seed of wisdom in themselves and others.
There is an inescapable causal relationship between godly wisdom, genuine righteousness, and peace. Godly wisdom produces a continuing cycle of righteousness, which is planted and harvested in a peaceful, harmonious relationship between God and His faithful people, and between Christ followers themselves. As Isaiah declared, “And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever” (Isa. 32:17).
As James continually emphasizes, people who profess to be Christ-followers must prove it by their daily living. If they are true believers, they will possess their Lord’s own wisdom, and that wisdom will manifest itself in righteous, selfless, and peaceful living. They have the revelation of God’s wisdom in Scripture and the teacher and interpreter of God’s wisdom in the indwelling Holy Spirit. The work of sowing, watering, caring for, and harvesting will be challenging, and you might have to pray that God would stave off the hail from ruining things, but when the harvest is complete, and you get to taste the sweetness of what a life of sowing wisdom can produce. There isn’t much better that your taste buds can encounter.
Heavenly Father, please instill in us the desire to put in the hard work of sowing and harvesting godly wisdom in order that we might taste the sweet fruits of peace and righteousness that come with the harvest. May we be a people who sow the seed of wisdom in those within our community, so that we might reap the harvest together with other brothers and sisters who seek Your face wholeheartedly. May an unbelieving world see the fruit we reap and desire the one who is the Lord of the harvest. For Your glory we pray! Amen.
Ministry Director, Christian Union Nova (Princeton University)
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