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When I was thinking up my post for this month I knew I wanted to talk about Jesus’ words in Matthew 9:37. It’s a verse that is often quoted around Thanksgiving, but how many of us actually know what it means, or how to apply it to our lives?
Then (Jesus) said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” -Matthew 9:37
Let’s have some context first; Jesus had been walking through towns preaching and teaching, but there are only so many places he can be. He saw the crowds that gathered to hear him, yet he knew there were many, many more, and he felt compassionate towards them and even thought of them as “sheep without a shepherd”. I believe Jesus knew he’d die and rise again eventually, which meant he could no longer interact with people face to face. In Matthew 9:37 he was preparing his disciples for this, and their task of spreading the gospel for him.
I love this passage of scripture because it creates wonderful imagery: all the people who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour are like crops at the end of the season. They are waiting to be gathered while they are still alive, but if nobody tends to them, they will die. Let’s think about that for a minute. As Christians, we are the workers or gatherers. It’s up to us to reach out to those who are unsaved and tend to them by sharing the message of the gospel before it’s too late. In the context of this verse, the harvest means all the potential new believers out there.
So how do we harvest for Jesus? We share our faith with friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, etc. Yes, it’s often easier said than done, but here are some simple methods to encourage you:
1 | Invite someone to church
Literally as easy as it gets! If you extend an invitation and they said no, that’s okay. Ask again in a few weeks, but be mindful not to pester. You could also invite them out to a social event at church instead of a service.
2 | Pray for them
You know how people always say “I’ll pray for you”? How many actually do it? Be the friend that says they will pray, and actually do it! I mean, right then and there, offer a simple verbal prayer. It seems like a small act, but it can really make a difference and could be the thing that encourages your friend to learn more about your faith.
3 | Share your faith
The internet is great for this! Social media is growing, and will continue to do so, which means you could have a public forum for talking about Jesus in a subtle way. It’s as simple as sharing a Christian song via YouTube, posting a Bible verse graphic from Pinterest, or making your cover photo something that gets people wondering.
This is an especially good idea for someone who is maybe not 100% confident in verbally talking about their faith (although I encourage those people to pray for courage!).
4 | Live like Christ
I have talked about living a modest lifestyle, which is quite Christ-like if you think about it. He didn’t send his disciples ahead of him to hype up his appearance in the towns. He didn’t have an autograph session after each teaching, he didn’t wear the fanciest robes, or ride the best animal. He just went about his ways quietly and let his words and actions proclaim the Father’s love. We need to be doing that too.
If people know you are a Christian they will watch you with an eagle eye. They want to see if you slip up, how you respond to certain situations if you act differently than others. By being modest, humble, kind, etc, we can set a quiet example for our non-Christian friends.
5 | Love others
In Mark 12:31 Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and he even says that, right after loving God with everything we are, THIS is the second most important commandment! But why? Because God loved us first (see 1 John 4:19). It’s as simple as that, but not always an easy thing to do! There’s a phrase people say that goes something like hate the sin, not the sinner which is what Jesus did. He didn’t avoid or hate people who lived less than perfect lives. No! He treated them all equally, and many of them wanted to continue following his teachings.
We won’t win people over to Christianity by judging them and being mean. Showing compassion, being willing to help, listening, praying, and loving will be our greatest tools! Have you heard the song “By Our Love”? There’s a lyric that says They will know we are Christians by our love. Friends, it doesn’t get any more simple than that!
As Christians, we should WANT to harvest for God. I hope this post encourages you to find your own ways to do so, whether that be something from the list above or not. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments.