How do you measure success? When is the moment you finally “arrive?” Is it when you get that big promotion at work or when you marry the person of your dreams? Perhaps when you create a masterpiece or buy a huge house? We are all given a blueprint for a successful life and told that when we obtain these dreams, then we will find fulfillment.
Whether economically, socially, physically, or intellectually – we are constantly evaluating ourselves against a certain standard. We measure our progress with the hope that, once we reach our goals, we will find the deep satisfaction that our souls crave. We live in the pursuit of insatiable dreams, often forgetting that the sustenance, the food that would fill our longing, is found in the turning of our hearts to God’s will.
Jesus’ definition of success, His source of deep satisfaction, was found in obedience to His Father. In John 4:34 He said that His food was“to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” The sustenance that Jesus lived by wasn’t found in numbers, applause, or promotion. His goal and deep joy were to do whatever He saw His Father doing. This humility produced an incomprehensible life of obedience. Let us embrace such humility.
Jesus, knowing His Father as Lord of the Harvest, invited His disciples to partner with His will for the salvation of lost souls: “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. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor” (John 4:35-38).
Our goal, just like the first disciples, is to be obedient to sow and reap a harvest of souls for God’s kingdom. Jesus is still saying, “open up your eyes.” Yet, there are times, when sowing and watering, that we don’t see the harvest. Does the lack of fruit make us failures? Other times, we reap a harvest and congratulate ourselves on what an amazing job we have done. But does the presence of fruit make us successful? If we base our success on results, we can’t walk in humility to obey God’s will. The outcome of our labor is ultimately up to God. The harvest is the Lord’s and we are the sowers and the reapers.
This was the humility that the Apostle Paul embraced when he said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:6-8).
Whether we sow, water, or reap – only God can produce salvation. Our reward is the joy found in simple obedience to the Lord of the Harvest. Let us embrace such humility.
Are you reaping a harvest right now? Rejoice! But remember that someone has gone before you to plant and water those seeds.
Are you faithfully planting and watering seeds but not seeing the harvest? Rejoice! Don’t get discouraged. Know that someone will come to reap what you have sown, and God will have the glory.
The sower and the reaper are meant to rejoice together. Together we partner with the Lord and work to see Him glorified.
We control the input, but the outcome is up to the Lord. We must go out to do our work and respond to the Lord of the Harvest. It’s the path of humility to be faithful in daily obedience, but there is deep satisfaction in responding to His will.
In your job, in your family, in your ministry – Are you being faithful to plant and water seeds? Are you listening to the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit? Are you being obedient to the Lord, no matter how small it seems?
This is our success: if, just like Jesus, secure in the Father’s love, we are hearers and doers of God’s will. Let us embrace such humility.