Working the fields

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Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37, Luke 10:2, NIV)

On first sight this may seem a bit dreary. There is so much to do and it is a plentiful harvest. One step out the door and all we can see is fallenness — a view I tend to have this world. I realize that everything is fallen and needs redeeming right this very moment. Fix this, fix that, keep going, do more, but you can never do enough.

Yes, this verse may have that idea in it. The harvest is plenty; there is a whole lot of work to do, but let’s look a bit deeper.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”

Let me take you through a short journey to arrive at what I believe is one of the greatest promises in the Bible.

To start, God is up there in heaven commanding us to do his work. He takes people from the widest gene pool possible. “You’re never too young”, he tells Timothy. “You’re never too old!” he tells Abraham. So he takes young and old, men and women, many of whom are the worst of worst: prostitutes, Christian persecutors, murderers, adulterers, alcoholics; you name it. God knows how to organize the most diverse gang ever!

Big point one: God calls every sort of person from every stage of life. He is not selective; He is not picky. He simply wants to bring all people to Him. His promise to Abraham was that he, Abraham, would be a blessing all of the nations. Not some. Everyone. The news of God’s son was great joy for all people. Not just Israel. Everyone. Time after time God explicitly says he wants everyone saved (see Titus 2:11 or I Timothy 2:4).

Everyone.

One of my favorite aspect of the Bible is that everyone in the Bible has a deficiency of sorts; everyone is given an imperfection. Moses has a speech impediment, David was a murderer and adulterer (he even schemed his murder and adultery ahead of time!), Jonah ran the other way when God called him, and Gideon had doubts that his army could defeat the Philistines.

This is my big point number two: No Biblical character is ever left with a spotless, perfect reputation. How beautiful is that? Those Biblical heroes who we view as giants are no better men than you or I. What made them special was that they were willing to fully commit to God’s calling and make personal sacrifices to do his will for them. That’s something that you or I could do. It just takes a certain (large) amount of bravery, obedience and trust.

Everyone. Flawed.

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”

Another fantastic thing about these heroes is that no one who helped with the harvest ever came up unproductive. Big point number three: No one ever fails when working for the Lord. Want proof? Open your Bible. Just try to find someone who was called by God, did His work and didn’t succeed in bringing positive change to the world. I’ll tell you this right now, don’t look unless you want to waste your time. No one fails at fulfilling God’s calling.

Perhaps you are starting to see the biggest point, the great promise this verse has to offer us. It comes down to this. Think of the analogy a little deeper. God is compared to a farmer. Would a farmer ever turn down the offer of help from a well-meaning friend. Answer: no.

God will not deny our help if step up to help him with his harvest. There is so much harvesting, work, fishing of men, to be done. So much so that there are not enough workers to get it all done, there cannot possibly ever be enough workers. The great thing is that God will help us help him. Want a satisfying life? Look no further. Work for the Lord and he will work through you! That is one of the greatest promises in the Bible. When we work with the intention of furthering the kingdom we will succeed — inevitable setbacks aside.

I leave with the following verse from John for your consideration. The implication of this verse is both encouraging and down right extreme. John 14:12 says this, “I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (NIV).

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”

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