Leviticus 19:23-25 is one of those Old Testament passages that seems to have little application to New Testament Christians. As the children of Israel enter the land of Canaan, God tells them that their crops for three years. Then, on the fourth year, all fruit of the land is to be given unto Jehovah. The fifth year marks the first time the Israelites would be able to eat of these crops.
Being a farmer takes a certain amount of vision, knowing where to plant. Labor is involved, and this profession takes serious commitment. It is not an easy profession in modern times, and it was that much more difficult in ancient times. It was not something easily entered into, but it was not something from which to just walk away. Being a Christian is very similar.
Investing in the Church
As Christians, we must have vision and a focus. In Proverbs 29:18, Solomon says that where there is no vision, there is no sense of direction. Proverbs 17:24 speaks of the wise having focus, but the eyes of a fool are unfocused. Jesus, in Matthew 9:36-38, looks at the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd. These people don’t know where they were going or how to get there. They have no vision or focus. Proverbs 23:7 tells us that our hearts reflect our true selves. What vision for our congregation do we have? What do we focus on? We can dwell on negativity and failure, or we can focus on a successful vision for the Lord’s church.
Labor is necessary in making a congregation work. John 4:35-38 records Jesus speaking to His disciples, telling them to look up and see the work that needs to be done. He says the one that works receives wages and life. It is a work that others have begun that will be picked up by those who come after. In Matthew 9:37-38, Jesus speaks of too few laborers to do the work and that His followers should pray for more workers. I Corinthians 3:6 has Paul describing the work he and Apollos have done with the Corinth church, and verses 11-15 describe a testing of our efforts, revealing how hard we have labored for the Lord. I Corinthians 15:58 reminds us that our steadfast labor for the Lord is not in vain.
Finally, making a church grow takes commitment. Proverbs 20:4 tells of one who will not plow in the proper season, leading to his begging when harvest comes. In Luke 9:62, Jesus warns us not to commit to the Lord while looking back at what we leave behind, and returning to I Corinthians 3, Paul and Apollos demonstrate a great commitment in their work with the Corinth church. In this commitment, consider our obligation to each other. In 1519, Hernando Cortez sank his ships when they arrived in the New World. He motivated his 500-600 men to press forward because there was no going back. We should approach our service to God with a similar attitude.
What is our vision and focus as a congregation? What kind of work are we willing to do, and what kind of commitment will we exhibit? Will we be farmers that walk away because progress is too hard? Will we try to stay as uninvolved as possible, waiting for and expecting failure? If God asked for a five-year commitment from those working in his physical kingdom, how much more does He expect from those of us working in His spiritual kingdom?
lesson by Tim Smelser