READY FOR HARVEST
Terry R. Baughman
“Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together” (John 4:36 NIV).
The season of harvest is a time to rejoice! There is great joy when the plowing and planting is over, the cultivation and care is completed, the produce has been packaged and preserved, and the work is finished. Then, it is time to relax from labors, enjoy the fruit of harvest, and celebrate another productive season of ingathering.
Throughout history, among many societies, special festive times of celebration accompany the completion of the harvest. In early America, after a most difficult time of hunger and a struggle to produce food, a feast of thanksgiving was held to celebrate an abundant harvest. A group of indigenous people joined the European settlers for the festive occasion and it eventually became the annual observance of Thanksgiving.
Scripture uses many examples and analogies of agricultural principles to illustrate spiritual living, sharing the gospel, and the eventual reward for our labors in the Kingdom of God. Spiritual growth and development may be related to natural growth, and the anticipation of harvest is the ultimate accomplishment of our discipleship.
The return of the harvest is directly dependent on what has been sown. Paul observed that, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). In the context of Paul’s letter he was referring to financial gifts and giving toward the needs of others.
Spiritual production is seldom the work of one, but each one is vital to the success of the season. This field is vastly larger than the abilities of any individual. It takes a vast cooperative community of believers to accomplish the growth of the Kingdom. “The field is the world,” Jesus explained to His disciples (Matthew 13:38). The final harvest will reveal the greatness of the field and the incredible increase of every effort.
One plants, another waters, but it is God that gives the increase. It is a joint effort and an expansive community of discipleship. Paul introduced this concept and focused on the end result of our united efforts, “Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:8). Not only are we in community with other believers around the world as we work in this great Kingdom harvest, we are also laborers together with God. Our ultimate reward will be determined by our labor and personal investment, but the rejoicing will be in joining together with all those who have contributed to the fruitful final harvest!
“Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap,” is not only a principle of agriculture but became a scriptural principle as well. Paul expanded on it when he said, “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7–8). While it is common to focus on the negative aspect when we warn others, “You will reap what you sow,” the positive promise is also true. When you sow spiritual disciplines you will reap the rewards of a fulfilled life of Christian service and everlasting life!
An old song of great jubilation was sung in churches many years ago, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we will sing and shout the victory!”
Rejoice in the reaping!
“Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35 NIV).