I am no farmer, but I know a few things about planting and harvesting. For instance, I know that one puts into the ground what what wants to take from the resultant plant. If I want avocados, I plant avocados. If I want tomatoes (unlikely), I plant tomatoes. I know what it is that I want and I plant accordingly. I am also aware that letting ground lay fallow means I do nothing with it for a time so that the nutrients can be restored in the soil and good crops grow in that ground again. There are other ways to restore soil nutrients, of course, but letting the ground lay fallow was the prescribed method in the Old Testament. God uses this metaphor to explain something to Israel.
He tells them to [sow] with a view to righteousness. He wants them to have righteousness in mind when they put things into their lives. I sow things into my life, both good and bad. If I have some hedonistic goal in mind, then I sow into my life accordingly — perhaps reading or viewing some lascivious material. If I have righteousness in mind, then I likewise sow accordingly — spending time reading The Bible and in prayer. God periodically brings me back around to this truth as a reminder. The rule of the spiritual is the same as the rule of computing: garbage in, garbage out.
God further tells Israel to [reap] in accordance with kindness. Not only do I have to sow, but there will be a harvest. It is interesting to me that kindness is mentioned here and that kindness is listed in Galatians 5:22 as well (the fruit of the Spirit). The footnotes of my Bible tell me that kindness could also be rendered as loyalty. Which is an equally excellent reminder that I will reap according to the one to whom I am loyal. If I am loyal to God and His ways, then I will reap a harvest of good things. If I am loyal to anything or anyone else, then I will reap accordingly.
The last part of the active farming metaphor is God’s call to [break] up your fallow ground. Fallow ground is, I think, the areas in my life wherein I am doing nothing at all. Am I developing the talents God has given me? If the answer is “No.” then I am leaving that ground fallow. Am I taking the opportunities that God gives me to tell others about Him and what He has done for me? Again, a “No.” indicates fallow ground. If I understand this part of the verse correctly (and I very well may not), this is a call to action in the areas of inaction. It is one thing to sow with a view to righteousness — the implication is that I was going to sow anyway — and to reap according to kindness — the same holds true here — but the fallow ground was just going to sit. God wants it broken up; ready to receive seed and produce a harvest.
God goes so far as to explain the wherefore of this all. He says that it is time to seek the LORD / [until] He comes to rain righteousness on you. When this was written, most crop watering was done by the rains. Irrigation, as we know it today, was still in development in much of the world. This portion of the verse reads a bit like a promise and a challenge. The words say that I should seek God until He rains righteousness on me. That is a challenge to me. I need to seek Him until something happens and the something for which I am looking is specific. But it also reads like a promise in that I seek Him until He comes. The follow-on to me seeking until something happens is that something will happen. It feels like a promise, in that respect.
Now to sum up and to apply to my life. I need to plant things in my life that will produce righteousness. This may mean not consuming certain types of media — not reading certain books or magazines; not watching certain TV shows or movies; not listening to certain music — and consuming others instead. But I, personally, need to evaluate whether the things I am planting in my life; the things I am taking into my mind will produce righteousness or not. And I need to choose righteousness. What I sow, I will also reap. If I sow righteousness into my life, I will receive a harvest of righteousness. If I sow anything else, I will receive a harvest in accordance with what I have sown. If I sow lust, I will reap lustful thoughts and actions. If I sow envy, I will reap envious actions and attitudes. I need to look for those areas wherein I am not actively doing anything and break up that fallow ground; get ready for God to do something there. When this is done, I need to seek God for the watering and the growth. Seed my mind and heart and spirit with righteous things; receive the harvest of what I have seeded into my life; become active in those areas wherein I have not been active (and should have been); seek God for the things needed to make those seeds grow. I shall reap in due season if I do not faint. Let God find me diligently preparing to harvest a crop of righteousness and preparing still more of myself to receive the same.