Laborers in the Harvest, by Stephen Tyng
“Laborers in his harvest.” –Matthew 9:38
The Lord’s harvest is the salvation of men. The wheat he gathers into his barn are the redeemed souls of his people. They are the good seed which he sows in the field of this world, and which he is to reap in the everlasting glories of the world to come. To cultivate this harvest, he employs the labors and ministry of men. To reap it—to separate the tares from the wheat, he commissions an angelic agency. They carry each saint to his home of glory. They will gather all at last to the kingdom provided for them from the foundation of the world. Among men, the Lord selects and employs a special ministry of individuals, who are set apart as laborers in his harvest. It is their whole business, the appointed occupation of their life. But surely the labor and ministry are not confined to them. All the servants of Christ are to be workers together with him, in preparing his field for harvest. It is every Christian’s duty. It is my duty. I am to be a laborer in the Lord’s harvest. As one of his laborers:—
1. I ought to have a CLEAR PERCEPTION of the purpose for which I live.
This is my apportionment. This is the design and the privilege of my being as a disciple of Christ. To gather with him. To build up his kingdom. To glorify his name. I cannot think of any lower end as worthy of life at all. Every earthly object will fade. Every earthly employment will pass away. Every mere selfish end will perish. What then shall I have as the result? Ah, how low is the thought, to live for mere appetite, or for earthly gain, or human applause, or unstable rank and power! Poor, miserable employments of my immortality! Let me rise above them, and feel that, like my Divine Master, I was born to testify his truth—and by example, and effort, and influence, in every way to gather his elect—that by all means I may save some. This is the only result of life which will abide, when earth has gone. The only attainment which will satisfy when life is surveyed in retrospection from eternity. In every relationship of human life I am there, to save and edify the souls for whom the Savior died. For this will I labor. Any lower end, if this be absent, is not worth the work of a single day.
2. I ought to have a HIGH APPRECIATION of the importance of this work.
No, how can I fail to have! If it were sufficiently important to bring the Son of God to earth, and to endure all his sufferings and labors for men, how can I too highly exalt its importance? This was the joy which was set before him. This is the satisfaction of the travail of his soul. This is the joy of the angels who minister to him. This was the upholding of the apostles in their work. This has been the employment and delight of all the servants of God. Can I ever undervalue it?
Oh, what will seem to me, hereafter, the salvation of a soul? Yes, a single soul. If one, shining in all the glories of redemption, taught the loving-kindness of the Lord, shall say that I was the instrument of bringing him there! And perhaps there may be many such. What joy will fill my heart! Well, how soon may all this be! Can I have then a higher end in life? And when the Lord says, “Go work in my harvest”—opening to me an door of influence, or usefulness, to the souls for whom he died—I will feel it ever to be the highest privilege of my being.
3. I ought to be EARNESTLY ENGAGED in it.
Every variety of instrument is provided for me—suited to every variety of character, talent, and station. I cannot seclude this laboring in the Lord’s harvest to any one particular part of the labor. The most inferior laborer in the field is as important in his place as the highest. There are diversities of gifts and differences of administration, but the same Lord, the same Spirit, the same work. I may not preach, but I can sustain and uphold the preacher. I may not translate the Scriptures, but I may print them, or give them, or send them abroad. I may not be the chief member of the body, but I may be a member, and be indispensable in my place to the happiness and growth of the whole. I will work then for my Savior, wherever he has placed me; whatever he has given me to do; however he is ready to employ me; to whomsoever he is pleased to send me. Here am I. I will try each day to do something in this great work in which he is engaged. Every enemy is busy. Every agency of evil is active. The power of Satan is in full blast. Oh, let me be active, and zealous, and engaged also, in the great work of the Lord upon the earth.
4. I shall certainly be SUCCESSFUL in my work.
My Savior’s harvest must succeed. Tares may grow with his wheat, but the wheat cannot be turned into tares. His grain may be scattered through the earth, but not one grain shall fall to the ground. This is the only certainly successful cause. Everything else may fail—must fail. Christ can never fail. If I work with him faithfully, I gather wages unto everlasting life. How blessed is this hope! I can do something to promote his plans. What can I do?—I am but one; but I am one—and all that is done with him is done securely. His elect will be gathered, though I refuse to help. Yes; but I shall lose all part and portion in the work—the only work that is to stand forever. How encouraging is this certain prospect of success! What light it gives in darkness!—what strength in temptation!—what defense in danger!—what boldness in the day of battle! Each soldier may fall, but the army is victorious. The fall of each in the warfare, is only an earlier entrance into glory. We shall all welcome each other, and shout the triumphs of our Great Leader in the end. Oh let me work then with all my heart, and all my strength, and all my life, in the harvest of the Lord.
5. Thus the laborers in the Lord’s harvest are distinguished.
They understand their proper work—they highly appreciate it—they earnestly labor in it—they are always hopeful and sure of success. Lord, help me thus to work for you. I would turn from every vanity to your service; I would count everything beside but loss for you. Oh help and keep me by your power.
Though in the outward church below
The wheat and tares together grow;
Jesus before long will weed the crop,
And pluck the tares in anger up.
We seem alike when thus we meet,
Strangers might think we all were wheat;
But to the Lord’s all-searching eyes
Each heart appears without disguise.
This comes from Stephen Tyng’s devotional classic Christian Titles, which would serve you well every day for seven weeks. We can’t recommend this one enough!