זָרַע – (zä·rah’)
In the morning sow your seed,
And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
For you do not know which will prosper,
Either this or that,
Or whether both alike will be good.
–Ecclesiastes 11:6 (NKJV)
Most of us are not vintners, planting and tending a vineyard or farmers, planting and growing crops; however, we all sow seeds every day.
The Word of Wisdom we look at now comes from the rich, ancient language of Hebrew and is more applicable to each of us than it at first may appear.
The Hebrew word’s literal meaning is to sow or scatter seed; but in its figurative history, this word has been used to provide wisdom in all areas of life.
Transliterated as “zara”, this word conveys the first part of the concept of sowing and reaping or planting and harvesting.
On the most basic level, the concept of sowing and reaping works like this:
A farmer who plants many good seeds is likely to have a rich harvest. Planting bad seeds will yield a poor harvest. Planting no seeds can only end in a harvest of nothing.
This idea is used figuratively all through Hebrew scriptures and in the teachings of Jesus and the apostolic writings found in the New Testament of the Christian Bible.
When it comes to business, it is easy to apply the concept of sowing and reaping.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to think about it is in terms of investment and ROI. We all would like our work and investments to return huge dividends right away like the Pentateuch describes Isaac receiving in the land of Gerar.
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him.
–Genesis 26:11 (NKJV)
But in most cases, sowing and reaping works more like it is described in that Ecclesiastes verse at the top. Sow seeds and work hard, not knowing which ones will prosper.
It’s true when developing products or finding and pursuing business leads, we don’t know which ones will prosper. But this can be mitigated by good research in product development and by screening leads to increase odds of success.
For real success in business, the sowing and reaping principle should be applied further than just working hard.
I said at the beginning that we all sow seeds every day. We do it with our attitudes (a smile or roll of the eyes could be more than a momentary thing), the way we treat people, how we follow through on our word or commitments… Even if you spend your whole day in bed, you’re sowing a seed of either rest or laziness.
You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled.
–Deuteronomy 22:9 (NKJV)
While this verse seems quite literal, it can be applied figuratively to your business and life.
If you’ve planted seeds by being lazy in one part of your business or lying and cheating somewhere else, a harvest is likely on the way that can “defile” your whole business.
Sowing seeds of integrity with your business and personal relationships, being honest, fair, and hardworking in all your dealings, will go a long way producing prosperous results.
At first, the process can seem quite slow.
You work hard and sow many seeds. Then you wait (hopefully while sowing more good seeds) because there’s always a waiting time between sowing and harvesting for seeds to grow. Some of the seeds produce, some of them don’t.
But there is an amazing thing about sowing and reaping. Over time, if you consistently sow good seeds, there’s a cumulative effect.
With the seeds you sowed years ago, you’ll be reaping in good results now as well as reaping in the benefits from newer seeds you’ve sown along the way.
To many looking at you from the outside at this point it may seem that, like Isaac, you’ve reaped a hundredfold what you sowed this year. And in actuality, that could be the case.
What kind of seeds are you planting for the future of your business and your relationships?