Our Lord instructed us to pray to “the Lord of the harvest, that he will sent forth laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38; Luke 10:2). God is the Lord of the harvest. He alone, as Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 3:5-7, “gives the increase.” Whereas He may use us to plant or water the seed, only He can produce the harvest. We may pray for the salvation of souls and preach the gospel to men, but only God can work the miracle of salvation.
When will today’s church learn that harvesting souls is not a mere matter of better marketing, but requires a miracle of God? Only “the Lord [can add] to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). Although we can add our converts to our churches, only God can add His converts to His church. People may be persuaded by us to come to our church, but only God can draw a lost soul to His Son, apart from whom there is no salvation (John 6:44, 65; Isaiah 43:11).
Not only is the Lord of the harvest the only one who can grant a harvest of souls, He is also the only one who can “send forth laborers into his harvest.” As we know all to well in the contemporary church, we’re just as futile at recruiting laborers as we are at bringing in the sheafs. In light of such irrefutable futility, we should stop futilely trying to recruit laborers and reap a harvest, and start praying instead to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers to gather in the sheafs.
As the Lord’s field hands, we are only to go where we are sent. We are not, as some mistakenly believe and teach, commissioned to force feed the Bread of Life to everyone we come in contact with. I’ve often seen, as I’m sure you have, well-intentioned Christians trying to shove the gospel down some stranger’s throat in the most inappropriate place and at the most inopportune time. By doing so these well-meaning but misguided “soul-winners” run the risk of spiritually choking some unsuspecting sinner to death.
Whenever we are sent into the harvest by the Lord of the harvest, we can rest assured that the fields are ripe and ready to harvest, or at least ready to be planted or watered. For instance, the Bible tells us in John 4:4 that Jesus had to lead His disciples through Samaria on their way to Galilee. Why? For two reasons. First, He had a divine appointment to keep with a Samaritan woman at a well in a town called Sychar. Second, the soul “fields” of Samaria were “white” and “ready” to be harvested by Christ and His disciples. Consequently, “many of the Samaritans” came to believe on Christ.
Jesus led His disciples into the white fields of Samaria. Likewise, He leads His modern-day followers into white fields as well. Whatever soul He sends us to witness to will prove to be a soul ready to harvest, or at least one with a receptive heart within which the seed of the gospel can be planted or watered. We may not reap the harvest, but merely plant or water the seed. Still, in Christ’s time someone will be sent to reap where we have labored, just as Christ’s disciples reaped a harvest of souls in Samaria where others had labored before them (John 4:36-38).