Planters and Harvesters
There once was a farm that specialized in harvest. They would spend various times studying and visualizing better ways of harvesting. They improved on their equipment, they developed formulas for more efficient methods for collecting and pick-up, they became the most noted on harvest technique in the area. They even wrote the book on harvest. In short, they were expert harvesters. One fall these expert harvesters decided that it was time to harvest. They meet at the fields in order to put their expertise to work. But when they arrived at the field they were amazed at what they saw. There was nothing to harvest. In their concentration on harvest they had failed to plant. We Seldom Get Something for Nothing. Like the rancher who decided that he could cut costs if he could teach his horses to eat nothing. In order to accomplish this he devised a plan that would teach this principle to his horses. The plan was as follows. For the next several weeks the man would place the feed bag on the horse – the bag containing the grain. During the span of these weeks the rancher slowly decreased the amount of feed that he placed in the bag. Finally, the rancher was successful. He would place the feed bag on the horse with nothing in it, and the horse would eat and eat – nothing. The rancher was so excited he was now getting something for nothing, but then something staggering happened; the horse died. The church cannot work on this ranchers principle either. In order to harvest the people must plant. The worker – Christian – must plant the Gospel seed. That means all of us. Many people want to be the harvesters – to enjoy the fruits of the labor. The job of the harvester is glamorous. They take their fruit to the storehouse and may proudly proclaim, “See what I have done!” This is unlike the job of the planter. The planters work is hidden under the clods of dirt. It usually goes unnoticed. However, the job of planting is CRUCIAL. Without the planting of the Gospel seeds there is no harvest. As Christians we need to go forth, prepare the soil and plant the seeds of salvation into our friends and community. Without this planting there can be no harvest. We could buy the best books on the subject. We could devise the best method and tools. But unless we first plant there can be no harvest. Neither can there be planting without harvest. Many people will excuse their lack of concern for the lost by the exclamation of “I AM PLANTING!” Behind this exclamation may be found a person that may be doing nothing at all. The exclamation is only an excuse for inactivity. Planting involves intense labor. Contemplate the process as outlined in Mark 4:26-29 (NASB) And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. “But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” The seed is planted, involving intense activity from the sower. He must be alert to the condition of the soil and faithfully scatter his seed. This includes: the cultivation of the soil, the sowing of the seed, and the watering of the seed. After this process is completed the rest of the process is dependent on God. The mystery in nature of how a plant grows from a seed is something that the wisest philosopher in the universe cannot fully explain… verse 27, “…, though he does not know how.” The seed after it is planted undergoes a change, it sprouts, it produces a blade. The seed that has been faithfully planted now has sprung forth into new life. All of this, even though the sower “DOES NOT KNOW HOW.” We do not know how the Holy Spirit can make a change in the human heart after the seed of the Gospel has been planted. But through the power of God the seed will sprout in God’s own time and produce new life. When bamboo is planted it is said to take seven years before it sprouts. Some pine trees demand fire before their seeds can sprout. The timing is the Lord’s. We do not know when the seed we planed will sprout. We must plant and be patient. The first sign of life is the sprouting then the blade. The person shows some interest in spiritual life. The kingdom of God in the soul, which is germinated by the word of life, starts out small. It then grows under the influence of the Holy Spirit. At first there is only a blade, but it is full of possibility. Then the head is produced. The faith and understanding of the unbeliever beginning to develop. Then when the grain is ripe it is harvested. A reaper is sent. This is not necessarily the person who has performed the work and planted the seed. And the harvest is brought into the storehouse. A new convert to Christianity has been won. As the beauty of spring is all around us and we see the evidence of planting, let us remember: 1) We cannot rely on last seasons crops. 2) We cannot just remember the way it used to be – We must move forward. 3) We cannot focus our attention behind us – looking back. 4) Each of us are to be involved in the work.