In Planting and Harvesting Part I, we looked at a story Christ told that demonstrated the pattern of planting and harvesting. Two servants, given a pretty hefty sum of money to watch over for their master, invested the money wisely and were rewarded. A third one basically allowed fear and hesitation to cause him to bury his entrustment in the ground, and as a result he was stripped of what little responsibility he had.
The lesson was that you harvest according to what you plant. Plant wisely and you will reap benefits (whether physical or spiritual is at God’s discretion). Plant poorly, or refrain from planting, and the harvest won’t be good.
And just like these servants were entrusted with their master’s riches, God has entrusted us with certain abilities and experiences that He expects us to invest in those around us.
There’s something else here, though. Something that sailed right over my head a thousand times, before it popped me between the eyes one day not long ago. It’s tied to the master’s exchange with this last servant, and it’s so key to the whole concept of using what we have.
Look at the servant’s statement: “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours” (Matthew 25:24-25).
And the master’s response: “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest” (verses 26-27).
Did you notice the similarity between the two quotes? Both servant and master agreed that this wealthy man reaped where he didn’t sow, and gathered where he hadn’t scattered seed.
So here’s a new twist to using our experiences: What if God doesn’t want us to just invest the good experiences, but also the bad? He “reaps where He has not sown.”
This means that there are a lot of things in your journey that God did not ‘plant’ or cause, but that He expects to get something out of it nonetheless!
Those bad experiences in your past…God didn’t cause them. But He still desires to get a harvest out of it!
Those offenses that you committed in the past or that brokenness that you still struggle with today…God didn’t cause it or create it. (And in the case of current brokenness, He definitely doesn’t want you indulging it.) But He still wants to reap something good from it!
Sometimes it’s the most stupid or wrong or offensive thing we did that becomes something we are expected to invest in certain situations or relationships.
Please understand I’m not trying to excuse or justify anyone’s bad choices. My own bad choices, for example, are totally mine. And while I would jump at a chance to undo them, God has still used them. He allowed those choices and the lessons I’ve learned from them to reap a harvest through many circumstances and interactions in ministry.
So never ever get caught in the trap of thinking you are disqualified because of something that happened to you or something that you have done. And don’t get caught up in thinking that you have to bury those bad choices in the dirt so no one ever sees them. They’re nothing to be proud of, for sure, but there are still circumstances where they are exactly the investment that’s needed.
God may not always be the planter, but He is always the Great Harvester!