Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.
I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
Jesus often taught using things the people knew about: Sheep, farming, weather, predatory beasts, and so on. He, the Master Teacher, knew how to take a simple thing like planting and harvesting to teach His disciples about sowing the seed of the gospel.
Farmers have to wait until the crops are ripe. Jesus said that the “crops” of people needing the gospel, and ready to hear it, were already ripe. What the disciples needed to do was to go out into the field–the world–and gather in those who were ready to be harvested.
Then He explained that sometimes the one who sows the seed is not the one who reaps the harvest, but both the sower and the reaper are rewarded in heaven, and can rejoice together.
We may not be the ones who start the process of bringing a soul to Christ. Someone else may have planted that seed. My husband’s story is one of those. People picked him up for Sunday school when he was young, and all through his life others brought the Good News to him in one way or another. By the time he was in college, he says, he decided to be an agnostic. But he met a man later, at his job, who talked to him straight from the Word about his need of salvation, and he began to seriously read the book of John, over and over. One day, he knew he believed, and he trusted the Lord. He was 24. What a beautiful example of this passage, the law of sowing and reaping. I believe there will be several people waiting to meet him in heaven who knew him as a child, and offered him the gospel. They all will be rewarded for the work they did in bringing him to Christ.
Sometimes we get to plant the seed. Sometimes we get to reap the harvest. Either way, it is God Who gives the increase in His fields.