"Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest" (John 4:35)!
In order to understand this Scripture correctly, we need to observe the laborers during the harvest. Because we live on a hill and are able to look across the fields, we had the opportunity again this year to do so. We observed how much effort is expended to bring in the harvest.
The Field is Ripe for Harvest
Here in Mexico it has become very clear to us just how much work there is to be done in the spiritual fields. As one visits individual people here, one is made aware of various difficulties that often arise from a lack of knowledge about the Word of God. Yes, the field is white for harvest!
Why is this need not appreciated, however? Are we perhaps sleeping, as it is mentioned in Proverbs 10:5: "He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame." Should we not also put forth the same effort in spiritual things as the farmers do their physical labor? No time is wasted in the physical harvest. Machinery is repaired ahead of time so that it does not break down during the harvest. And, as soon as the harvest is ripe, large machinery and all other necessary equipment is deployed and everyone works from early until late.
Jesus advises his disciples: Do not put off the harvest until tomorrow! Just as in the physical realm there can be a "too late," so too in the spiritual. We've heard the farmer say: "If we cannot harvest soon, we will lose a lot." Is it not the same in the spiritual sense as well? How many souls go into eternity unprepared? That is why our Lord made the appeal: "Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are al- ready white for harvest!" Let us take note: The fields are already white!
Laborers in the Harvest
Spiritually, the field is ripe for harvest, but there are only a few willing laborers. The words that Jesus speaks in Matthew 9:37-38 are very appropriate: "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." We have been studying this thought for the last four weeks and are praying: "Lord, please send more laborers! How else is it to go on? Who will continue bringing the Gospel into all the world or even into the regions nearby?" What will happen when those congregations that are currently being served by older brothers are unable to find a pastor in the future? When Jesus sent out the seventy, He told them: "The harvest truly is great!" In Luke 10:1-2, we read: "After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go."
It is difficult to think about what Jesus would say if He was here on Earth today and surveying the church- es. Would He not accuse us and ask: "Why did you not take my command seriously?" How are we responding to the call: "Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest"? The field is white for harvest! Where are the laborers?
Why was this or that person not encouraged more to fully submit himself to this charge? Jesus gives us both the command and the example. The apostles obeyed the command. It lay heavy on their hearts that all people should be helped! They left everything just to be able to share the Gospel with more people. And what do we do today?
What is Holding You Back?
The preference for comfort and convenience be- comes more and more prevalent amongst us. How will you answer when Jesus asks you the question He asked Peter: "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" Peter answered Him: "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." And Jesus said to him: "Feed My lambs." – Jesus asked him the same question again and when Peter answered that he loved Him, Jesus said to him: "Tend My sheep." Peter was grieved when the Lord asked him the same question for the third time and said: "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." And again Jesus said to him: "Feed My sheep."
Someone recently said: "Because the local congre- gation has become so large, we have fallen asleep. We have become dependent on others; they will get the work done." Is it perhaps the same with you, that you think: Someone else will get it done? Someone else can pray; someone else can sing; someone else can invite others; someone else can encourage their children to learn the piano. The list could go on and on...
Have we earnestly been praying for laborers, even though our congregation currently has a pastor? When will we become aware that because of our negligence in this area many souls are eternally lost? Have we ever thought about who will preach the Gospel to our children and grandchildren?
Let us take Jesus' call to heart: "Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" But let's also heed Christ's other admonition: "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."