My last study brought up the example of a farmer trying to grow a crop. I addressed this subject as it related to the topic of being patient while awaiting rewards for good works, but I feel this allegory has even more applications to our discipleship.

The image of farmers tirelessly working their fields day-after-day is one that each of us can relate to. Whether we are literally working for the food on our tables, or toiling through a time of affliction, or hoping to reap an elusive forgiveness, so many times we patiently exercise our faith for a long season before the harvest.

The way of the farmer teaches us both patience and faith. It inspires us to believe that our works really matter, and also humbles us to know that even so we still depend on grace. And hopefully by the end of this study these two truths won’t seem so contradictory as they might at first.

Hosea 8:7, Job 4:8, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 6:7-8

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap
The first and most obvious lesson that the scriptures teach us about sowing and reaping is that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. “What you sow is what you reap” seems so obvious that one can hardly believe it needed to be said even once, though the scriptures repeat this message numerous times.
Yet I’m sure we all can think of times where we did something bad, hoping to somehow avoid the negative consequences that always follow. Though the principle “sow what you reap” held true for everyone else, we were going to be the exception.
Many times we talk about having faith in good. We say to trust that good works bring good rewards. But sometimes I think we need to have faith in the bad as well. We need to have a faith that doing bad things is just going to let us down…every time.

The bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption

Notice that these scriptures allow for the phenomenon of people sowing unwisely and still appearing to be gratified for a time. Perhaps their bud will yield, perhaps they will reap flesh. But sometimes the curse is in the getting. Just ask the Israelites (Numbers 11:32-33).
Often this world puts a delay between action and consequence, but that does not mean the link of cause-and-effect is broken. Play the long game and hedge your bets on the truth that every good deed will be rewarded sooner or later.

Matthew 13:24-30

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
Jesus provided the interpretation to this little parable. He was the sower, the good seed was the children of the kingdom, the tares were the wicked, and the harvest is the end of the world where all will be judged.
But each of us is a miniature type for the world (or maybe the world is a macro type for all of us?) and so the principles that apply to the whole apply to each of us individually.
Because, you see, each of us is sown with the image of Christ. We are the children of God, and inherently have the seeds of all virtues within us. But, at birth, we are also sown with the natural man, and have the seeds of all vice within us as well.

The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

Our lives then become a fight between these two natures, and it is a mercy from God that we are not called for judgment until that struggle has run its course. I’m sure we all know those that lived a wild and reckless youth, but over the years heard God calling their name and answered. I think we are all grateful that we are given time to mature, time to sort out the good from the bad, time to decide who we will ultimately be. It is a grace from God that we are not measured until we are fully grown.

Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Remember, in this interpretation you are the field in which the wheat and tares were planted. The promise given to each of us is that eventually all those predispositions to do evil will be taken away. A promise that we can “be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of [our] breast, and receive his Spirit, that [we] may be filled with joy.” (Alma 22:15)
It is not only sickness and death that will end in the resurrection, but also temptation and weakness will beset us no more. To me that is a great comfort during times of duress. There is a plan, the season continues, my tares have yet to be excised. And that’s all okay, because eventually there will be a time of unburdening and a season of rest.

Matthew 9:36-38, John 4:35, 37-38

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few
One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour
We have just examined an individual interpretation of a field being sowed and reaped, but I would be remiss to pass over the more universal meaning Jesus stressed on more than one occasion. The harvest he refers to in these passages is clearly that of bringing God’s children back to Him. It is the work of ministry.
And this isn’t just any harvest, it is one that has extended over millennia, with multiple stages of development. In this work we not only work shoulder-to-shoulder with Peter and Paul, but even Abraham and Moses.

Other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours
God has been staging this work since the very beginning of this world. He has had a specific plan directing which of His servants were called to plant, to nurture, and to reap. Moses was not to called to free the world, only the Hebrews. That sapling had been considerably wounded, and for a time required exclusive care before it could branch out further.
It was not until much later that Peter received a command that now was the time for the Gentiles to receive the Good News. A common criticism of Christianity is that the rules around it have changed throughout the years. Yet we do not question a farmer who keeps infant plants in small pots, then later integrates them into the broader field. It’s just doing what is called for at the time.

Countless disciples have worked tirelessly throughout the ages to ensure a bounteous harvest. They did their part well, for which service all of us have been made the beneficiaries.
Now the torch has been passed on to us. Our duty is to see that all the sacrifices of those that came before do not go to waste. The Lord has never rescinded the commandment to reap. We know the harvest ends soon, and it wouldn’t do to leave any fruit out there to spoil!

James 2:17-18, Ephesians 2:8, 2 Nephi 25:23

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

Faith, if it hath not works, is dead
By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God
There is a famous debate in the Christian world, whether our works are necessary for us to be saved or not. Surely none of us believe that we “earn” our way into heaven, but doesn’t God expect something from us? James tells us that “faith without works is dead,” which suggests that works are necessary for the cultivation of faith, if nothing else. Meanwhile Paul told the Ephesians that they were saved by grace through faith (which remember James says exists by our works), though he stressed that that only came as a “gift from God.”

It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do
But rather than debate about which of these scriptures is wrong, why not accept that both of them can be true? Going back to our farmer analogy, the sower needs to do his part to plow the soil, plant the seed, and fend off the weeds, but still he depends on God to bring the rain, prevent the early frost, and divert the insects and diseases. More than anything he depends on God to even put the miracle of growth into the seed to begin with.
We do need to do our part. We need that sense of having put in our all. We need to try and fail and try again and feel ourselves becoming better. We need to overcome, surmount, and triumph.
And then, after all that, we need to be in awe of the fact that none of it is enough without grace. Our obedience is simply how we open the door to allow for God’s grace to bring us to heaven. And who appreciates the grace of God more than those who run out all their strength, falls short, and then feel God carry them the rest of the way? That is faith and grace.

Summary

This was a smaller study, and kind of an offshoot from my previous one. That is the beauty of pursuing answers, one tends to find even more questions along the way. There is no shortage of truths to discover, and it is beautiful to see how they all combine into one whole and support and expand upon one another.
Also these truths can be found anywhere, and they can especially be found in nature, as in the case of this study. God has designed the basic pattern of our human survival so that it clearly teaches lessons of patience, faith, and reward.

Reaping What You Sow Can Be Either a Blessing or a Curse

There is a common pattern noted in many different cultures and spiritual teachings. Karma, what goes around comes around, get what you deserve, etc. Though in the moment life may indeed be unfair, over time things do tend to balance out.
This truth is a great condemnation to the wicked and a great liberator to the innocent. While some are crushed by its momentum, others are wise enough to use it to their advantage. Be patient and persevering in doing good, and soon enough nature itself will work for your triumph!
Galatians 6:7- Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Matthew 7:2- For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.

Cultivating a Soul Takes a Season

Nothing good comes easy. In other words, the measure of a thing’s value can often be found in the difficulty by which it was obtained. By that standard the purification of the soul must be the most precious treasure of them all!
Achieving this position is so difficult, in fact, that only God can do it for us. Not a single one of us can purify our own selves, we simply do not have the power to do it. What we do have the power to do, though, is stop God from cleansing us. He loves us too much to force any blessings on us that we don’t want. The more I interact with God the more I realize that all He needs from me is to stop shutting Him out and then He’ll take care of the rest.
Simple as that may sound, it takes everything I have to manage it. It takes constant effort. Every day I have to diligently water my “love of self,” I have to weed out any “feeling unworthy of forgiveness,” and I must carefully prune any “harmful exercises of free will.” I have to be diligent, and I have to do it for as long as this mortal field is mine. If I am faithful, though, God will make my garden grow.
2 Nephi 25:23- For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

We Are All Workers in the Field

As difficult as it may be to just work our own field, if that is all we do then we have not met our calling. We are meant to work in the fields of others as well. In fact, our own cultivation of the soul cannot ever be completed without the cultivation of other’s.
We are kindred spirits, and our fates are entwined. The Savior gave a clear warning that we were not to “hide our light under a bushel,” nor were we to “bury our talent.” Our injunction is to “Let [our] light so shine before men,” (Matthew 5:16). To be born of Christ is to be called to the work.
We are nearing the final harvest and there is still a great deal of reaping to be done. There is sufficient rest for all of us at the end of the season, for now we must lean into this work with all that we have.
Matthew 9:37-38- Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.