Earning a Wage Even with Grace
35 Do not say, “‘there are still four months and then comes the harvest?’ Behold I say to you lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for the harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: One sews and another reaps. 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labors.”
Ok, I must admit and perhaps some of you will admit your confusion over the above texts. We have Jesus talking about wages and labor and reaping and sowing. It is all confusing especially in light of the belief that we do not work for our salvation, but salvation is given by grace and accepted as a free gift by faith. Faith in that what Christ and the Bible has said about His atoning sacrifice and salvation is correct.
Yet here is Christ talking about wages and labor and sowing and reaping. It makes it sound like I am working for my salvation. Maybe, just maybe I am? Could this be true?
Let’s look and see. Paul in Romans 6:23 states that, “That the wages of sin is death, . . . .” So if I am able to earn wages that result in death, can I also earn wages that result in salvation?
That question is not stated well, let try it again. Sin has it wages, and according to Paul those wages are death. We earn death when we sin. Therefore, can eternal life have its wages? Can we earn wages when we seek eternal life?
I must admit this concept of earning wages for eternal life is not easy to find in the Bible, but there are enough passages that speak of us earning wages in service to God. But that does not mean we earn our way to heaven. Quite contrary. We are, as mentioned above, saved by grace through faith.
James, the brother of Jesus in the book that bears his name says, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” James 1:21-25.
The woman who came to the well, was not only a hearer of the word, but became a doer by planting seeds of the gospel in the people of the town. Where seed had just been planted a harvest was already present. She heard, acted upon, became a co-laborer for Christ and although saved by grace through faith, her labors earned her a wage which she will see and partake in when she goes to heaven.
So it will be with all of Christ’s faithful followers and disciples that either sow seeds of the gospel or are present for the harvest, their reward, their wage will be given them in heaven. It is the actions in participating in the work that shows the seeds that were planted have taken root in their lives and is bearing fruit.
Christ looked upon the field and saw the green wheat blowing in the wind. But for Him the harvest was already ripe for the woman of the village who had come to the well to draw the stagnate water of the earth, tasted of the living water given out freely by Christ and immediately went to work sowing seeds and participating in the harvest.
All of Christ’s faithful disciples need to be actively participating in the labor set before us. Sower and Laborer will celebrate together when they are rewarded with eternal life for faithful service given out of love for the gift of salvation that has been granted to them by grace, accepted by faith and outward shown to be accepted by us in our happily working for the Lord.
Behold the harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Will you accept the call and become a laborer for Christ?