Seeing the hearts of people ripe for God’s harvest
Agrarian economies still dominate a good part of the world, so planting and harvesting are important times of the year. They impact the livelihoods of many people. How good the harvest is or isn’t impacts everyone.
Our economy in America is more diverse. In years past, we were considered an industrial economy with an agrarian backbone. But technology and its counterparts created an industry of its own.
Most Americans only see the effect of a good or bad harvest when it affects food prices. Unless you live in a part of the country where agriculture is king — like the Midwest or Central California — you may not know when harvest time is.
A different kind of harvest
Jesus’ followers knew when harvest time was and what it meant — hard work. They knew the importance of that work in the lives of all it touched.
As Jesus waited at an ancient well, while His followers went to town for food, He engaged a Samaritan woman who came to draw water at the well.
It’s a long story but a good one and takes place on their way back to the region of the Sea of Galilee from Jerusalem (John 4:1–42).
While they were on the road in Samaria between Jerusalem and their home base in Capernaum, Jesus declared this to them —
Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35 (NIV)
Of course, Jesus wasn’t speaking of the harvest of a field of grain but the hearts of people—ripe for God’s harvest.
This is what the disciples were called to do. When Jesus called them to follow Him, He said they would be fishers of people (Matthew 4:19)
Jesus was telling them of a harvest right in front of them — right now — as they saw the Samaritan villagers coming out to them.
After Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well — which stunned His disciples — her whole village came out to see Jesus.
This was unexpected by His followers. But not Jesus. And He seized the moment as a teaching opportunity.
Looking past the harvest
Jesus’ words remind us of a harvest ready to be brought in now not later. Many people seek acceptance, forgiveness, hope, healing, and love along with other deep personal needs.
When we get so caught up with the immediacy of life we tend to look past the people who come in and out of our lives within a day. I know I do.
I need to intentionally choose to see people, listen to them, and engage them in conversation. If we’re not intentional about it, we won’t see the harvest of hearts coming towards us.
We need to have the eyes, ears, and heart of Jesus to see people as He saw those people walking across the field toward Him.
We need the eyes, ears, and heart of Jesus to see people as He sees them
Can we see beyond?
This story starts with the Lord initiating a conversation with a woman of questionable reputation from a culture His people didn’t see as equals.
The Jews and Samaritans were at odds with each other because of long-held differences in beliefs and values, history and tradition.
Jesus’ followers did not perceive their call to be fishers of people among the Samaritans or any other group of Gentiles. They saw the Kingdom of God reserved for the Jews only.
They had a narrow, restrictive concept of God’s kingdom.
Are we like these early followers of Jesus? Do we allow cultural, ethnic, racial, or religious differences to hinder us from seeing people as Jesus saw them?
Are we aware of the people God brings into our lives who are ready to hear God’s story of redemption?
It’s easy to be unaware of opportunities with the people who populate our lives on a daily basis. Most of us don’t see ourselves as evangelists or laborers in God’s harvest field.
But if not us then who? Who will bring the life-changing message of God’s grace into their lives?
Engage with people!
When was the last time you shared your story of faith with a non-believer? I’m not talking about a full-court press quoting Bible verses in an effort to convince people they need salvation.
I’m talking about engaging people in a simple conversation about life and faith — theirs and yours. Take time to listen not just talk. And be ready to share with them why you follow Jesus.
Who do you come in contact with throughout a week or month?
I imagine at least some of the people you encounter in a day need to hear about the forgiveness, hope and love Jesus extends to whoever will receive these from Him.
Do you ever ask people how they’re doing and listen to what’s going on in their lives?
When you find ways to make yourself available to the people you come in contact with in daily life, you might be surprised at how open they are to talking about faith, even letting you pray for them for whatever needs they share with you.
Just do what Jesus did
Do what Jesus did. He engaged the woman at the well in conversation. He listened to her and treated her with respect. He shared the truth with her.
How did she respond? She went and told her whole village about Jesus and they came out to hear Him for themselves.
The timing is up to God but the willingness is up to us
There’s a harvest of hearts waiting to be received. The timing is up to God but the willingness is up to us. We just need to see beyond ourselves.
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