Within the United States, approximately 2% of the population is employed in the farming industry. While this is percentage is substantially less than it was a century ago, these farmers provide even more food (in total) than their predecessors.
Because of this lower percentage, though, many believe that the knowledge of how farming works (that is, where food comes from) is diminishing among the general population. I admit that – with my background – it’s a little difficult for me to wrap my mind around how someone might not know how a seed is planted in the soil, grows into a plant, and is harvested. But, that’s mainly because I grew up in a rural part of the country, in a community surrounded by farms that would grow crops in rich soil from the Mississippi river floodplain. Furthermore, my family annually grows plants in small gardening plots in the backyard, despite our living in the city, and the amazing process of growth takes place around our house every year (including those stubborn thistles that pop up in the back yard).
Truly, it is incredible to see how the information packed into a seed awakens with water, takes in nutrition from the air and from the soil, and becomes a complex plant. (And, in August, when the lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, and peppers all ripen at once, the salad is delicious!)
For any of my fellow citizens (perhaps those in the big city) who have never yet seen this process in action, I hope that they will have this opportunity. It is pretty amazing.
Still, even if we haven’t watched this process take place, we pretty much all understand the fundamental principle that if we plant kernels of corn, only corn will grow from them. If we plant wheat, we’ll get wheat. (If we plant Twinkies, we’ll get…a mess.) God created this from the start (see Genesis 1:12, where various kinds of plants were created, and each produced seeds to grow into more plants).
The same principle applies to animals (dogs have puppies, cats have kittens, etc).
And, while not always quite as consistent, the same thing works in life. If we show kindness to others, we’ll likely receive more kindness in return (not always, but then, people aren’t plants). If we are mean to others, we’ll likely receive anger and negative reactions in return.
This same principle appears at another scale: What we “sow” in our lives produces “in-kind” results, as well.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8 NASB
If we are determined to live and act according to selfish or evil purposes, we receive the results of those actions. Living for our own tainted, fallen preferences (typically sinful choices, contrary to God’s better plan) results in consequences for us.
Choosing instead to follow the Spirit of God allows us to live as God intended. Those who have made this choice will regularly testify that it is more rewarding than living for oneself. The results – seen in the lives of those who make the choice to live as they are directed by God – include the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-25). Note that “fruit” is singular, suggesting that there is one lifestyle and outcome from living according to the Holy Spirit, but it is rich and complex, taking several terms to fully describe it.
However, God knows that doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Sometimes, despite the long-term benefits, we experience setbacks – like when we don’t see results for a long time, or face active hostility by those who are still opposed to God. The next verse in Galatians reminds us to keep at it, though. Why? Because if we keep at it, the investment produces results.
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
Galatians 6:9 NASB
I agree that results don’t always happen when we want, and we may not even see the harvest in our lifetimes; however, if you don’t think that doing good produces results, re-read that verse a few times. You can also talk with God (i.e., pray) about it, and share with Him where you don’t see the results of your efforts.
In most climates, there are only a limited number of months when planting can take place. Planing too soon, or waiting too long to plant, may result in the plants being destroyed by frost before they can yield fruit.
Similarly, we must use the time we have to do good. Some opportunities don’t come a second time, and we only get a certain amount of time to work on earth before being called to our eternal home.
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Galatians 6:10 NASB
So, grab a handful (or bucket or bag) of good works, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit within you, and prepare for a harvest!