Reap What You Sow: Its Biblical Meaning

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Published by Kimberly Wall

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Co-Founder, Disciple Group Leader, Author

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The phrase “reap what you sow” is a famous idiom that many use. However secular as it may seem, the idea of sowing and reaping holds a significant meaning in Christ’s teachings that will help us live according to heaven’s law. Reaping and sowing in the Christian faith[1] originate from the predominant work in biblical times.

Throughout the Bible, the metaphor depicts results that sprung out of the actions taken by the apostles and followers of Jesus. For us living in the present generation, God has instructed us, through His disciple Paul, to please the Holy Spirit instead of the desires of our flesh. In this way, we will reap the heavenly rewards that will neither rot nor be taken away.

Key Takeaways

  • “Reap What You Sow” reflects a fundamental Christian teaching emphasizing the link between actions and outcomes, as outlined in various Bible verses.
  • Unlike karma or retaliation, this principle underscores the importance of righteous choices, repentance, and trust in God’s mercy for salvation.
  • It serves as a moral guide for Christians, urging them to cultivate virtues, show compassion, and seek eternal rewards over worldly gains.

Origin Of The Phrase: Reap What You Sow

Galatians 6:7–8 says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.”

The idea of reaping and sowing helps individuals navigate through life. Reaping and sowing as guiding principles allow us to humble ourselves and become good followers of God. It will enable us to acknowledge that we are all sinful in every little way, and the only way to save our spirits from eternal damnation is our faith that God has sown good seeds within us—the kind of good seed that is above any treasures of this earth.

a watercolor painting capturing a farmer sowing seeds in fertile soil

How To Apply The Principle Of Sowing And Reaping In Your Life

The concept “reap what you sow” helps us to clear every negative thought, cleanse our spirit, and prepare ourselves for the second coming of our God, Jesus. However, more than just a guiding principle, the law of God about sowing and reaping requires us to acknowledge our omnipotent God as merciful and gracious.

It Isn’t Karma

The phrase isn’t related to karma. However, the idea of karma is deeply rooted in the minds of those who did not choose to follow Jesus Christ. The belief in karma isn’t part of any Christian faith, belief, or concept. Karma began in India during the events when some people became “untouchables” and lived difficult lives as a result of their prior choices.

The phrase emphasizes that if you sow bad things and give in to sin and all temptations of the flesh, then you will reap bad things. However, unlike karma, you still have the chance to redeem your spirit so long as you trust in God’s mercy to save you from everlasting life in hell.

It Isn’t An Eye For An Eye Mentality

It is also not associated with the context of an eye for an eye mentality, where you do the same things that other people have done to you with the effort of getting them. Likewise, you do not live a life of obedience and good choices because you expect something in return. Rather, it is making the right choices, as it is the right thing to do.

It Isn’t A Revenge Mentality

Revenge will not bring salvation to anyone. The word of God emphasizes that living a life on earth is about sowing forgiveness and repentance in every sinful way. As we choose to follow the way of our Lord God and seek salvation, it is important that we not dwell in the past and learn from the difficult times in our lives.

In essence, “reap what you sow” serves as a reminder for us to clear our every thought, cultivate love and obedience, and choose to show mercy, as God already forgave the sins of our flesh.

Sow Godliness And Reap Heavenly Gifts

Our earthly lives are just a fraction of eternity beyond our physical death. It is important to remember that as we navigate our lives on earth, we must anchor our thoughts and actions to Christ-like ideals.

Reaping and sowing show us that the actions we take today will significantly impact our lives in the future. As followers of Jesus, let us fill our lives with gifts that do not perish, like skin and bones. These gifts are eternal life and salvation.

an illustration of a farmer harvesting ripe crops under the golden sunlight, reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh's style

What Does God’s Word Say About Reaping What You Sow?

The Bible often uses examples, a series of metaphors, and imagery of farming, planting, sowing, and reaping throughout the scriptures since almost all of the people are working pastoral or agricultural jobs. The phrase embodies not only the explicit meaning of the words but also deals deeper with God’s justice and each person’s actions.

The context of “reap what you sow” in the Bible begins with tithings. In contrast to the popular belief that you give a distinct fraction of your wealth, God’s word emphasizes in 2 Corinthians 9:6 that those who sow sparingly will truly reap sparingly.

In essence, the concept of the phrase doesn’t necessarily mean that you allot a percentage of your wealth in cash or a given amount of time for obligatory work, but rather the selfless act that is exchanged for eternal life in heaven with Jesus Christ. The scripture presents another principle that describes sowing and reaping with a negative connotation, implying that it comes with negative consequences.

In Proverbs 22:8 in the biblical scriptures, “reap what you sow” is emphasized in the person’s actions. It says there that when a person’s life is devoted to planting seeds of injustice and corruption, consequences come to their earthly flesh, like death and an eternal life spent in the pits of hell.

Finally, Jesus Christ, through the Bible, encourages us to have giving hearts. The phrase emphasizes that consequences and bad things will happen if a man sows bad things. Moreover, if we do good deeds, we’ll reap eternal life as a reward for our faith in the Holy Spirit.

an oil painting depicting the cycle of sowing and reaping

Bible Verses About Reaping What You Sow

Many Bible verses from the Old and New Testaments share the same principle with the statement “reap what you sow,” and here are some of them that would significantly improve your Christian faith and shed a biblical perspective on sowing and reaping.

Reaping What You Sow

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

— 2 Corinthians 9:6

“The faithless will be fully repaid for their ways, and the good will be rewarded for theirs.”

— Proverbs 14:14

A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.”

— Proverbs 11:18

Providing, Sowing, And Reaping

“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

— Proverbs 11:25

“Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor will also cry out and not be answered.”

— Proverbs 21:13

“One person gives freely yet gains even more; another withholds unduly but comes to poverty.”

— Proverbs 11:24

Men and Evil Works

“Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.”

— Proverbs 22:8

“Do not be deceived; God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

— Galatians 6:7 

“The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast.”

— Proverbs 5:22

“They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.”

— Proverbs 1:31

Seeds Of Righteousness

“How blessed are those who promote justice and do what is right all the time! Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people! Pay attention to me when you deliver.”

— Psalm 106:3–4

“Even now, the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.”

— John 4:36

Judgement Day

I, the Lord, search the heart and test the mind to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.

— Jeremiah 17:10

“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

— 2 Corinthians 5:9–10 
an illustration of a farmer harvesting ripe crops under the golden sunlight

Summary

Understanding the principle of the phrase “reap what you sow” holds great importance in the lives of Christians. As followers of God, we need to be reminded of the mercy of God that is sown in every heart. It will also serve as our guiding life principle for our spirit not to go astray and give in to the desires of our flesh.

Ultimately, as one family in Christ, we must become ambassadors for God and His kind and redeeming love for people who seek refuge for their spirits. Let us be stewards who bring peace and good news to lost and confused people. Let us become agents of change and prepare the world for the coming of our Lord and Savior.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who First Said You Reap What You Sow?

The phrase “you reap what you sow” is often attributed to the Bible, specifically Galatians 6:7. It emphasizes accountability and consequences, suggesting that the outcomes of one’s actions correspond to the effort and intention invested.

While rooted in biblical literature, similar sentiments are echoed across cultures and religious texts, highlighting a universal acknowledgment of the principle of cause and effect.

Is Reap What You Sow True?

“Reap what you sow” encapsulates the principle of cause and effect, reflecting the notion that actions carry consequences. While not universally applicable in every situation, it serves as a guiding principle for personal responsibility and understanding the interconnectedness of actions and their outcomes.

Despite external influences, the concept underscores the idea that effort and intention often correlate with the results individuals experience in various aspects of life.

Is Reap What You Sow Positive?

“Reap what you sow” carries nuanced implications depending on context, but it generally promotes personal responsibility and growth. It underscores the link between actions and outcomes, encouraging individuals to consider the consequences of their behavior.

While emphasizing accountability, it also highlights the potential for positive outcomes when investing in constructive actions and intentions.

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