“Sow your seed in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.” Ecclesiastes 11:6
Most people are familiar with the idea of sowing and reaping, as taught in the Bible. This principle is commonly understood to be applied spiritually. And this is right. But, as in much of Scripture, we can apply a principle in more than one way and find it to be clearly intended so.
The Bible is replete with metaphors. Metaphors are a great teaching tool – possibly the most effective there is. With a metaphor, a concrete example is applied to a conceptual idea, marrying the two to illustrate and clarify one another. The result to the learner is a fuller, deeper understanding of the concept illustrated.
This method is seen all throughout the Word of God. It is used in specific words, such as wine, blood, branches, and water. It is seen in phrases, such as “fishers of men” and “kingdom of heaven” and “wages of sin”.
The writer of Ecclesiastes, Solomon, used metaphors to teach his wisdom all through the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Here, he is focusing on the business concept of productivity, making the best use of one’s time and resources. And in like manner, one can see a powerful spiritual concept aligning itself perfectly with the business concept.
This idea of sowing and reaping shows us in very simple terms how to plan and carry out our business endeavors. “Sow your seed in the morning…”
The morning is when we get up. We have just been refreshed from a long sleep. We are recharged, ready to go. THIS IS THE TIME TO WORK. This is not the time to be sleeping. That is why God created the night. And it’s not simply a matter of personal preference – God designed the human body to function a certain way and follow a certain pattern. If anyone would deny this, ask them if they have ever experienced jet lag. It’s a phenomenon that interferes with the internal pattern God put into the human body to function in particular way.
If people aren’t working in the morning, they are being idle. And idleness leads only to trouble. (“Laziness casts into a deep sleep, And an idle man will suffer hunger.” Proverbs 19:15)
Of course there are many who would contest this. They might say “I work better at night” or “I can’t get going till late in the day”. But does their personal preference undo the words of God?
I don’t think we can take a passage such as this one and say there are no exceptions – the wisdom books of the Bible are general concepts and principles, and there are instances where the opposite of an axiom comes true. Even Solomon himself lamented this unfortunate reality here:
“I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11
There are unexplained paradoxes in life! But…what the Ecclesiastes teaches is a general principle, and the outlaying of the general truth is seen over and over again in life. It behooves us to follow what it taught – not hope for an exception!
He furthers his lesson in commanding his readers to likewise not be idle in the evening…a time more people might be tempted to be idle. Solomon is not imploring us to work non-stop and without rest. He’s telling us not to be idle. Big difference. Idleness is many things, but it could be narrowed down to simply “wasting time”.
What is wasting time? Well, that might be a little different for every person, but if it could be capsulized into one definition we could say it is doing anything for which there is no real purpose or benefit, to oneself and especially for others.
We all fall into the trap of thinking sometimes we need to do whatever we feel like doing. We need “time off”. We need to just chill out. Or whatever.
Do we? I will say with certainty that the most productive, successful, and effective people in the history of the world spent very little, if any, of their life doing whatever they felt like doing. The shakers of the world became so by being constantly committed to their purpose in life, and most significantly those who saw God’s purpose as something they must give every possible moment of their life to.
Think of all the people in history who have dramatically changed societies and nations for the better (inventors, political leaders, teachers). Think of the renowned of the Bible, men and women who God used to shape His kingdom in this world. How many of them spent their lives being idle, wasting time? Resting???
Our greatest example, the perfect Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ, committed every minute of His life to the purpose God had given Him.
The reason we have to sow a lot – morning and evening – is because we live in a cursed world. We just don’t know what will work, if one will fail, and the other succeed, or both, either way. There are no guarantees. Just because we work hard at one time does not ensure that we will get positive results – physically or spiritually. We must operate under the framework of chance and time and realize in order to succeed, we have to make the absolute best use of every minute.
The main point here is that we are to be productive with our time. All of our time. God has given us such a wonderful gift of life, the least we can do is make the absolute best use of it, sowing and reaping…morning and evening.