In Psalm 126 we read, "They that sow in tears shall reap with singing. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with singing, bearing his sheaves." There is a costliness in the ministry of this seed-sowing that is often little considered, and yet on the right understanding of it the harvest greatly depends, and we shall not be wrong in saying that were there more tears in sowing there would be more singing, and a richer harvest. If we turn to the ministry of the Son of God, we see God-ward a ministry of joy, for He could ever "rejoice in spirit" and say, "I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight." Yet manward it was a ministry of tears, for while He came to bless men, they would not be blessed. We have not a more touching picture in the Bible than that at the close of our Lords ministry, when, addressing Jerusalem, He exclaimed, amid His tears, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least, in this thy day, the things that belong unto thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes." Truly His was a ministry of tears, but the sorrow of a rejected ministry did not preclude the severity of His denunciations on those who had dishonored God, trampled on His law, and refused His own loving entreaties. It is this compatibility of "goodness and severity" that needs to be enforced in these feeble days, when our love in its weakness has neither tears nor rebukes, and when the love of God has in the minds of many lost both its infinite goodness and its awful severity.
It is interesting to notice Pauls allusion to his tears, in the progress of his ministry; he twice refers to them in his address to the Ephesian elders, and if, in writing to the Philippians, he tells out in words of thunder the characteristics of false teachers as those whose "god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things," it is with weeping that he does so. It was thus also that weeping Jeremiah foretold the desolations of Jerusalem, and in sympathy with the heart of God be could say, "Oh, that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!"
This is a feature of service that is much called for, alike in ministry to the church and to the world. It would show that the heart of the servant was engaged in the work he had to do, and would prevent that cold, dead, orthodox ministry, so apt to mar the work of God by misrepresenting the heart of God. But to be true, it must begin in secret as the prophets words remind us, "If ye will not hear, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride."
God seeks sowers whose hearts are in sympathy with their work, and as all ministry is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death, He would clothe His witnesses in sackcloth as well as in the garments of salvation. Truth loses its power when its reality fails to leave its impress on the sower, whether of joy or of sorrow. But to the one whose heart is in harmony with his work, and whose sowing is watered with his tears, the harvest is sure, not only in the present, but infinitely more in the future. Sheaves will assuredly follow weeping, and the reaping will be with songs of triumph.
There are still some weeping sowers; may there be many more! May the Lord in infinite love fill our cup with blessing and our work with hope, and may we remember Him Who had to say, "I have laboured in vain, I have spent My strength for nought and in vain," but Who could yet add, "Surely My judgment is with the Lord, and My work with My God" (Isa. 49:4). Thus will faith lead into fellowship with Christ, making His sorrows ours and making His joys ours also, both here and hereafter.