This proverb comes from the days when each and every family worked their own land in order to grow crops, food that would sustain them throughout the year. Land does not produce an abundant harvest unless time and effort has been spent on first preparing the ground by ploughing and then adding nourishment – manure or fertiliser. It then has to be carefully prepared for sowing the seed and followed by regular watering.
All of this represents hard work – but the rewards at harvest-time are great. A farmer who just sowed the seed on unploughed ground, hoping for a good crop, would have very little to harvest at the end of the growing season. His laziness would result in his family going hungry.
Most of us are not able to work land in order to feed our families, but there is still a profound lesson for each and every one of us in today’s Scripture. God has given us all gifts and abilities – gifts and abilities which we can use to meet the needs of other people and thereby earn a living. It’s no use praying for God to meet our needs if, at the same time, we are failing to “work the land of our lives”.
But there is a different kind of harvest about which Jesus was very concerned. We can certainly pray for those in our community who don‘t know the Lord, but if we do nothing to ‘plough and nourish the land’ by building relationship with them, our prayers will be limited in their effectiveness. It was when Jesus met and talked with the woman at the well and shared with her about the water of life that her life was changed for ever.
We need to ‘work the land of our lives’ and be always alert to the potential of every personal encounter, so that we can build bridges into the lives of those who are in need of salvation. Or, as Haggai expressed it “work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Hosts” (Haggai 2:4).
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to always use the gifts You have given me to earn the bread that we need for nourishment. But help us, too, Lord, to farm the land of our community and seek to produce a harvest for Your Kingdom of lives that have been changed by Your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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