Summary: Are we doing the work of the Lord?
Dwight L. Moody, by his own admission, made a mistake on the eighth of October 1871 -- a mistake he determined never to repeat. He had been preaching in the city of Chicago. That particular night drew his largest audience yet. His message was "What will you do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?" By the end of the service, he was tired. He concluded his message with a presentation of the gospel and a concluding statement: "Now I give you a week to think that over. And when we come together again, you will have opportunity to respond." A soloist began to sing. But before the final note, the music was drowned out by clanging bells and wailing sirens screaming through the streets. The great Chicago Fire was blazing. In the ashen aftermath, hundreds were dead and over a hundred thousand were homeless. Without a doubt, some who heard Moody's message had died in the fire. He reflected remorsefully that he would have given his right arm before he would ever give an audience another week to think over the message of the gospel.
If He were here in person this evening, He would tell us to look around at our community . The field is ripe to harvest; it is time for the harvest to be gathered, or it will perish. He would tell us to look at the needy people around us, and then tell us to quit saying, "I'll wait until the holidays are over", or "I'll wait till I come back from vacation, and then I'll help." It may then be too late to harvest.
We must learn that today, right now, we are located in the center of a spiritual harvest field where the souls of men are threatened with eternal death, eternal damnation, eternal separation from God unless laborers (that's you and me) get out there and work, sharing the story of God's love and His desire to save.
Our text says that the wise son will work in the time of harvest, but that the unwise son, will sleep during the harvest rather than laboring. And such a sleeping son brings shame and disgrace to his father. This evening, we all have a heavenly Father, who wants us to work to bring in the harvest. The question is, "What kind of child of His are you? Are you a wise, working one, or a sleeping one?
The harvest must be reaped when it is ripe. There are certain laws of nature which must be followed. In the natural, there is a time of soil preparation, followed by planting, cultivation, watering and fertilizing, etc. These things must be done in the proper order, and with proper care given to each step if the farmer expects to reap a harvest. The church must likewise be in a continual cycle of preparing the hearts of people to receive, then sowing the seed, cultivating and watering it with the Word of God and prayer if it expects to reap a spiritual harvest.
We all have a job to do. Listen to this: when a Russian Baptist preacher was brought before the Soviet secret police, he was asked, "How many preachers do you have in your church?" "Five hundred," he replied. "Five hundred!" exclaimed the interrogator. "How many members do you have, then?" "Five hundred," was the quick reply. "You see, every member of my congregation is a preacher of the Gospel."
1. Soil preparation, seed time, and cultivation time must precede the harvest
Sometimes, it takes a long time of preparation, seeding, and cultivation to bring some people to the place they can be considered "ripe prospects" for conversion.
We must be careful not to make an attempt to win them before they are prepared in mind and heart to experience the blessings of salvation, just as the farmer would be foolish to attempt to harvest his corn before it is ripe, to pick his cotton before the bolls opened, or to pick his peaches while they are still hard and green.
2. Harvest time will always come.
There is a time to prepare, plant, and pulverize the soil in cultivation. But there is also a time to reap.
To neglect the harvest when it is ready is criminal; it is a total waste of all the work and effort that has gone before it. It is a law of nature that the harvest must be made at the proper time.
Cotton loses its weight, color, and quality if not picked on time. Corn falls over, and will rot if it is not harvested before winter sets in. Yellow wheat turns white, and will soon rot if not harvested.
Peaches, apples, grapes, and berries fall off the tree, the vine, or rot on the ground if they are not harvested.