What does the Bible say about seed time and harvest?
From a spiritual perspective, seed time and harvest can refer both to people coming to Jesus Christ and to the spiritual growth of Christians.
In Matthew 9 we are told that Jesus had just finished teaching and healing many people. He did this because He loved and cared for the people. Not only did Jesus teach spiritual truth, He met the physical needs of His listeners. He did this in cities, villages, and in the country. Most of them did not come for spiritual reasons, but to have their physical needs met. The blind, lame, lepers, deaf, demon possessed, came looking for healing. People came for help for the dead. He healed the sick and raised the dead. The historical records of Pontius Pilate affirmed that these events did occur. He cared for the people’s emotional distress and their depression . But His greatest concern and passion was for the spiritual needs of people. Therefore, He encouraged His disciples that many were ready to be “harvested” – to seek spiritual peace with God – but there were few workers who were willing to help.
And Jesus was going about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (NASB) Matt. 9:35-38
Jesus encouraged His disciples on another occasion. He started with a farming illustration.
Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages, and is gathering fruit for life eternal; that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” (NASB) John 4:35-38
Jesus’ point is simple. People are spiritually ready to have their sins forgiven by Him. To encourage them, He says there is a reward for helping people see their spiritual need. Then He adds an important point that some Christians miss. Some may “sow spiritual seed” and not harvest while others may harvest and not sow. There are sowers and harvesters. It is exciting for harvesters to see people discover their spiritual need for God and respond. We often forget about the sower. Notice that Jesus says the harvester enters into the work of the sower. There will be many sowers who will be surprised when they reach heaven and God reveals the wonderful results of their faithful sowing.
Growing The Harvest
Sowing and harvesting includes more than just helping people become Christians; it includes helping them grow as Christians.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. (NASB) 1 Cor. 3:6-9
Some of us plant seed or share the truth about Jesus. It may include teaching or preaching the Bible. It can be as simple as telling someone how you came to God. Some of us plant or sow seed. Paul is talking about helping a person become a Christian and then continue to grow. He calls Christians “God’s field.” But the one who really does the planting and watering is God because it is the Holy Spirit Who helps us to see our need for Jesus and Who helps us to spiritually grow.
. . . not in words taught by human wisdom, but . . . taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (NASB) 1 Cor. 2:13
Yet, God wants to use us and has chosen to spread the gospel through us.
How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (NASB) Romans 10:14
God seeks men and women who desire to be involved in sowing, watering, and harvesting. There are no special qualifications – only that you believe Him and depend on Him with all your soul, mind, and will.
You are writing a Gospel,
A chapter each day,
By deeds that you do,
By words that you share.
People read what you write and say,
Whether faithless or true,
Say! What is the gospel
According to YOU?