Sermon Info:

Responsive Reading:  2 John 4-11
Key Verse(s): 2 John 8
Background Scripture:  Matthew 13:24-30; John 8:27-38

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In his second letter, John writes to the “elect lady and her children” – the church, the entire congregation of true believers – to look to ourselves so that we do not lose those things we have worked (labored) for.  This encouragement, I believe, would raise a few questions with the first being:  what are the things that we can lose?  The second question runs along the same line:  what are we working for?  The third question being:  what is our work?  Today, I tell you that we are on the clock and while we are clocked in, we have no time to sit down.

8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.


Walking in Christ’s Commandments

John’s second epistle (letter) follows up his first epistle by continuing to focus on the subject of true faith.  As you know, there are two subjects that I commonly teach or preach about:  the conduct of the believer and then the role (duty) of the believer.  I focus on these subjects a great deal because the believer ought to know how to carry themselves while moving (laboring) in true faith.

Moving in true faith

What is true faith?  Faith, many of us would say, is what we believe in our hearts.  Now, what the genuine believer believes in their heart is the truth.  When I say the truth, I want you to understand that I am not talking about believing in some fable, conspiracy, or man made report.  No, the truth that I am speaking of is a truth that we have received from God, first shared through the prophets of the Old Testament, then through Christ, and then by the apostles and all of the teachers and preachers that followed Him.

Faith, we have learned and know, is not something that sits still; faith is active.  To those of the church, John wrote that we should love one another and that we should walk (move) according to the commandment of God (2 John 5-6).  I want you to know that those who move according to the commandment of God can never go wrong.  The reason being is that those who move according to the commandment of God are walking in His righteousness and are laboring in true faith.

In His righteousness, we understand that the Lord is always right, and by His righteousness, we know that God moves to uplift all of those that come to Him.  So, by God, we know what is the good and right way for us to move (labor).  What is good are all of those things that are done to help uplift rather than those things that are done to cause hurt and harm.  So, with this in mind, the duty of the believer is not to hinder or to put a stone of stumbling in another’s path but to edify through love – to labor for good (1 Cor. 8:1,9).

Now, this preaching is not something that is brand new to us.  We know that in order for us to be true to our faith in God, we must humble ourselves and submit ourselves to both the will and way of God.  In submission to the will and way of God, Paul wrote that the elect of God are to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering (Col. 3:12).  Our hearts, Paul said, should be ruled by the peace of God (Col. 3:15).

In doing the Lord’s will, we believers ought to obediently move according to the task that has been given to us by Christ.  Again, I do not say anything new to you because by now, we know the Great Commission very well (Matt. 28:19-20).  We know that the will of God is for us to go unto all nations of people and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  True believers have been given the task of teaching others to observe all things that Christ commanded us.

I say all of this to say that our labor has been laid out very clearly to us by the Lord.  The will of God, we know, is for all of those that truly believe in Him to do good by serving each other, and at the same time, also serving all of those around us.  The question we must answer is this:  are we laboring for the Lord or are we sitting down?

Laboring for the Lord

Again, I tell you today something that I believe we already know — we are on the clock for the Lord in the service of spreading His righteousness and doing good; we have no time to sit down.

Now, when I was thinking over this week’s sermon, I was thinking about the Sunday school lesson we had last week – Obedience in Feasts.  In that lesson we briefly spoke about harvesting and the harvest feasts.  So, harvesting was on my mind when I began to prepare this week’s sermon.  In a passage of scripture from John’s gospel, Jesus spoke to the twelve about His labor, the season we are now in, and the labor that we have joined into.

The season of labor

In this passage of scripture from John’s gospel, we will see Jesus express to the disciples, when they were urging Him to eat because He had not eaten for some time, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work (John 4:34).”  The disciples’ concern was something essentially of the flesh while Jesus’ concern was about the season; there was a sense of urgency coming from Him.  Why the urgency?  What was this work of the Father that Jesus had to do and to finish?

As Jesus was preparing to make His next statements to the twelve, He looked out at a field and I picture that a smile began to grow on His face.  Jesus said to them, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’ (John 4:35)?”    Jesus then told the disciples to lift up their eyes and look at the fields, for the fields were already white for harvest (John 4:35).

What did Jesus mean by this?  Jesus, we must understand, was speaking spiritually at that moment.  It was not literally time to physically harvest the field that they were looking at as there was still four months to harvest.  However, spiritually speaking, there was a field whose crop was ready to harvest, according to Jesus.

The field that Jesus was speaking of in this verse relates to the world and the crop of the field relates to all people in the world.  The work that Jesus was finishing up, we should understand, was harvesting; it was a work that began through His Father when He called out to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So, we should understand that we are in a season of harvesting – there’s an urgent need to labor for the Lord.

Parable of the Wheat and Tares

Now, to further show you the work of Christ so that we can know and understand our labor, I want to share with you the Parable of the Wheat and Tares (Matt. 13:24-30).  In this parable, you will see that the work of Christ was likened to that of a farmer.

Jesus began this parable by saying that the kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field (Matt. 13:24).  Yet, while that man slept, another man, his enemy, came and sowed seed in the owner’s field (Matt. 13:25).

The man that had sown good seed, we can liken to God.  God, again, reached out man, cleansed the earth, and reached out to man over and over again.  Though I do want to point out to you that the Lord never slept.  The enemy, therefore, would be Satan who slithered in and sowed his seeds of wickedness right there in the garden.  So, to be clear, God the Father has sown good seed in His instructions – the truth – and Satan has sown his seed of the great lie and deception.

When Jesus spoke of His labor to the Jews, He always expressed to them that He had come to do the Father’s will.  Jesus said that He had not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them (Luke 9:56).  If we were to speak figuratively again, we would say that Jesus did not come to tear or to burn down the fields – He came to ensure their growth and to gather what He could.

On another occasion in scripture, we will see that Jesus said that the Son of Man had come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).  Again, Jesus came to harvest.  Yet, within His labor of harvesting, we find that Jesus had to also do some sowing of the truth through His teachings, preachings, and healing. In sowing the truth, Jesus called out the sins of man but also showed man a pathway of mercy and forgiveness in God’s eyes.

Why did Jesus have to sow?  Well, according to the parable, the field that the Lord had sown His seed in grew to be infested by tares – an invasive weed that looks very similar to wheat.  The tares (weeds) grew from the lies, ignorant conspiracies, and deceptions sown by Satan (Matt. 13:26).  So the field of the owner was covered by a good crop of wheat but was also covered in tares (weeds).

What this means for all of us today is that our world is a world filled with wheat and tares; both the good seed and bad seed have sprouted up together in the field.  The good in the world have grown from the truth sown by the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.  The bad in the world have sprouted up from the seed of the great lie sown by Satan, and believed to be the truth.

So, we live in a mess of a world and Christ does not hide this from us!  This is why Christ moved with such urgency: to prevent the spreading of the weeds!  If we look further at this parable, we will see that servants of the owner of the field came and asked him, “Do you want us to go and gather them (the tares) up (Matt. 13:28)?”

The owner responded with a no and that the wheat and tares should grow together until the final harvest, and at the time of harvest, the reapers will gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn.  The wheat will be gathered and stored in the owner’s barn (Matt. 13:29-30).  This is the reason why Jesus labored with the urgency that He did – the final harvest draws near.

Labor with your whole heart

In John’s gospel, Jesus said to the twelve, “One sows and another reaps.  I have sent you to reap … (John 4:37-38).”  Jesus has spoken about His labor, and now He is focusing on our labor.  Our labor is like that of one sowing and reaping in the field.  Do you labor with such urgency today?

Now, I cannot pretend to have ever worked in a field a day of my life so it would be hard for me to speak about farm life from my own personal experience!  That being said, my dad, who did spend days working in the fields as he grew up, did not share many fond memories of having to pick peaches in a peach orchard or pick cotton in a cotton field.  So, from his and others’ experiences, working in the fields was not easy work.

Farmers have to have a great understanding of time and season – when to plant and when to harvest.  From sunrise to sunset, and maybe even earlier or later, farmers tend to their animals, their fields, and their crops.  You see, there is little time to sit down for the farmer.

So, why all of this hard work?  Farmers have to eat and they certainly have a goal of making money and in doing so, we get to eat as well!  Farmers are putting forth their best effort so that they can be rewarded with a good crop; a good crop equals a good harvest and this is the fruit of all of their labor.  A lazy farmer will reap a poor crop and harvest, which in the end, brings home little reward in the end.

So, the work of a farmer is indeed difficult work.  Though my labor is not literally in a field, I would testify to you today as a minister, that laboring for the Lord can be rather difficult.  Yet, as Paul said to the Galatians, “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap (Gal. 6:7).  For he who sows to his flesh will of his flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life (Gal. 6:8).”  What is your labor in the world today?

Again, Jesus said that one sows and one reaps.  You and I are in a season that draws near to the final harvest.  We are among the field of wheat and tares and there is no time to sit down as the tares continue to spread through the field with its lies, deceptions, conspiracies and false reports.  Do you understand the urgency for which we ought to labor with for the Lord?

To the Colossians, Paul shared a word of encouragement which said, “whatever you do (in labor), do it heartily (wholeheartedly), as to the Lord and not to men (Col 3:23).”  We are to not labor half-heartedly but wholeheartedly for the Lord.

We Are on the Clock

We are on the clock today as the weeds continue to rapidly spread through the field with all of their lies, deceptions, ignorant conspiracies, and false reports with a smile on their faces.  I tell you today that as those who vigorously sow such seeds of wickedness, the good should sow seeds of righteousness just as, if not more, vigorously than the wicked!

Sowing and reaping

Again, I say, we are on the clock!  Jesus, again said to the disciples, “One sows and another reaps.”  Jesus said, “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors (John 4:37-38).”  You and I, as true believers, have entered into the great labor – the good fight of faith – that those who came before us have already labored in; the baton has been passed to us and we must continue in the labor.

All of last month, I preached to the complaint that many have about this world being an unfair world; it is unfair but we have seen that we can do something about it.  It is said that the world is doing nothing but getting worse and worse.  This, again, is true as tares (weeds) have grown in the field.

If we turn back to 2 John, we will see that John spoke to this and said that many deceivers have gone into the world and spoke against Christ, in the flesh (2 John 7).  John, not hiding it, said that the deceivers that speak against Christ, His good and righteousness are an antichrist – a form of it; they are anti-truth, anti-good, and anti-righteousness.  John lived in a season of false reports and if you look around you will realize that we live in a season of false reports – anti-truth, anti-good, and anti-righteousness.

However, I will say, though the world is getting worse and worse, we must remember that the wheat sown by God has also grown in the world and still is growing. If you have sprouted up from God’s righteousness, rather than complaining about the world getting worse and worse, be the part of the world that is growing to be better and better!  Those who sow should be sowing good and those who reap should be working to gather together and bring in the good to the congregation of true believers.

Yes the work is difficult, but as Paul said, let us put our soul in this great labor.  Many of us will grind and hustle in our worldly labors so that we can be in line for a great reward — a pay raise, a bonus, promotion, etc.  If we can put our whole heart into our worldly works for worldly treasure, can’t we put our whole heart in our labor for the Lord?

No time to sit down and lose

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote that we should not grow weary in doing good and that in every opportunity we have to do good, we should do what is right and good (Gal. 6:10).  You and I should not grow weary in laboring according to the commandment of God; we should not grow weary in helping to uplift and sowing seeds of God’s righteousness so that more wheat will grow in the field!

We have so many avenues today where we can reach out with the truth to combat against the lies and conspiracies; we have so many avenues to labor in and sow good seeds so that others can flourish in their souls.  One may be able to sow seed face to face while another has the ability to reach out through radio and TV.  Some may be like me and have the ability to sow seed through use of social media.  Let us take advantage of every opportunity we have to do good.

In our key verse, John encouraged us to look to ourselves so that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.  We have worked for the good of God to not be overcome by lies, deceptions, conspiracies, and false reports by those who will happily spread those things.  Should we sit down and stop in our labor, the weeds of the field will simply continue to spread.  Let us not lose a soul because we have chosen to sit down when God has shown us that now is the time we should labor with urgency.

Let us join in and continue to fight the good fight of faith against the great lies and deceptions of evil and wickedness.  We should all be laboring so that we can one day hear the Lord say, “well done, though good and faithful servant (Matt. 25:21).”  We don’t want to lose the reward of a soul saved and we certainly don’t want to lose the extra rewards that the Lord has waiting for us in His kingdom all because we thought that now was the time to sit down.  No, there is no time to sit down in our world this season.

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