We are not to discard prudence in the choice of the time for our work. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” It is well to sow when the weather is propitious. It is wise to “make hay while the sun shines.” Cut your corn when there is the probability of getting it in dry. But Solomon here is pushing the other side of the matter. He had seen prudence turn to idleness; he had noticed some people wait for a more convenient season, which never came. He had observed sluggards making excuses, which did not hold water. So he, with a blunt word, generalizes, in order to make the truth more forcible. Not troubling about the exceptions to the rule, he states it broadly thus: “Take no notice of winds or clouds. Go on with your work whatever happens. ‘He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap."
NATURAL DIFFICULTIES MAY BE UNDULY CONSIDERED. A man may observe the wind, and regard the clouds a great deal too much, and so neither sow nor reap. In any labour to which we set our hand, if we take too much notice of the difficulties, we shall be hindered in it. It is very wise to know the difficulty of your calling, the sorrow which comes with it, the trial which arises out of it, the temptation connected therewith; but if you think too much of these things, there is no calling that will be carried on with any success.
Well now, dear friends, do you imagine that, in sowing the good seed of the kingdom, and gathering the sheaves into the garner, you will have no difficulties and disappointments? Do you dream that, when you are bound for heaven, you are to have smooth sailing and propitious winds all the voyage? Do you think that, in your heavenly trading, you will have less trials than the merchant who has only to do with earthly business? If you do, you make a great mistake. You will not be likely to enter upon the heavenly calling, if you do nothing else but unduly consider the difficulties surrounding it.
There was never an enterprise started yet but somebody objected to it; and I do not believe that the best work that Christ Himself ever did was beyond criticism; there were some people who were sure to find some fault with it. If that is what you are doing, finding out imperfections and difficulties, it will end in this, you will do nothing at all.
So is it especially true in the work of serving God. Now, if I were to consider in my mind nothing but the natural depravity of man, I should never preach again. When I look upon the alienation from God, the hardness of the human heart, I see that old Adam is too strong for me; and if I regarded that one cloud of the fall, and original sin, and the natural depravity of man, I, for one, should neither sow nor reap. Dear friends, there are persons to whom we should never go to seek their salvation if we regarded the winds and the clouds, for they are peculiarly bad people. We know, from observation, that there are some persons who are much worse than others, some who are not amenable to kindness, or any other human treatment. They do not seem to be terrified by law, or affected by love. So, you know, you can go on making all kinds of excuses for doing nothing with certain people, because you feel or think that they are not those whom God is likely to bless. I know this to be a common case, even with very serious and earnest workers for Christ.
Let me carry this principle, however, a little further. You may unduly consider circumstances in reference to the business of your own eternal life. You may, in that matter, observe the winds, and never sow; you may regard the clouds, and never reap. “I feel,” says one, “as if I never can be saved. There never was such a sinner as I am. My sins are so peculiarly black.” Yes, and if you keep on regarding them, and do not remember the Saviour, and His infinite power to save, you will not sow in prayer and faith. If, instead of looking to Christ, you are always studying your own condition, your own withered hopes, your own broken resolutions, then you will still keep where you are, and you will neither sow nor reap.
Beloved Christians, you who have been believers for years, if you begin to live by your frames and feelings, you will get into the same condition. “I do not feel like praying,” says one. Then is the time when you ought to pray most, for you are evidently most in need; but if you keep observing whether or not you are in a proper frame of mind for prayer, you will not pray. “I cannot grasp the promises,” says another; “I should like to joy in God, and firmly believe in his Word; but I do not see anything in myself that can minister to my comfort.” Are you trying to find your ground of consolation in your own heart? If so, you are on the wrong track. Our hope is not in self, but in Christ. Our hope is in the finished work of Christ; let us go and reap it.
I think it is a great lesson to learn in spiritual things, to believe in Christ, and His finished salvation, quite as much when you are down as when you are up; for Christ is no more Christ on the top of the mountain than He is in the bottom of the valley, and He is no less Christ in the storm by midnight than He is in the sunshine by day. Do not begin to measure your safety by your comfort; but measure it by the eternal Word of God, which you have believed, and which you know to be true, and on which you rest; for still here, within the little world of our own bosom.
SUCH UNWISE CONSIDERATION INVOLVES US IN SEVERAL SINS.
God bids me sow: I do not sow, because the wind would blow some of my seed away. God bids me reap: I do not reap, because there is a black cloud there, and before I can house the harvest, some of it may be spoiled. I may say what I like; but I am guilty of disobedience. I have not done what I was bidden to do. I have made an excuse out of the weather. Dear friends, it is yours to do what God bids you do, whether the heavens fall down or not.
Next, we are guilty also of unbelief, if we cannot sow because of the wind. Who manages the wind? You distrust Him who is Lord of north, and south, and east, and west. If you cannot reap because of a cloud, you doubt Him who makes the clouds, to whom the clouds are the dust of His feet. Where is your faith?
The next sin is really rebellion. So you will not sow unless God chooses to make the wind blow your way; and you will not reap unless God pleases to drive the clouds away? I call that revolt, rebellion. An honest subject loves his king in all weathers. The true servant serves his master, let his master do what He wills. Oh, if He would but alter my circumstances! What is this but tempting God, as they did in the wilderness, wishing Him to do other, than He does?
Another sin of which we are guilty, when we are always looking at our circumstances, is this, foolish fear. Though we may think that there is no sin in it, there is great sin in foolish fear. God has commanded His people not to fear; then we should obey Him. There is a cloud; why do you fear it? It will be gone directly; not a drop of rain may fall out of it. You are afraid of the wind; why fear it? It may never come. Even if it were some deadly wind that was approaching, it might shift about, and not come near you. We are often fearing what never happens. We feel a thousand deaths in fearing one. Many a person has been afraid of what never would occur. It is a great pity to whip yourselves with imaginary rods.
Another sin is often that of idleness. The man who does not sow because of the wind, is usually too lazy to sow; and the man who does not reap because of the clouds, is the man who wants a little more sleep and a little more slumber. If we do not want to serve God, it is wonderful how many reasons we can find. According to Solomon, the sluggard said there was a lion in the streets. “There is a lion in the way,” said he, “a lion is in the streets.” What a lie it was, for lions are as much afraid of streets as men are of deserts! Lions do not come into streets. It was idleness that said the lion was there. I have heard persons run themselves down, when they have been invited to any Christian work, as being altogether disqualified; and when somebody has afterwards said, “That is true, you cannot do anything, I know,” they have looked as if they would knock the speaker down.
LET US PROVE THAT WE HAVE NOT FALLEN INTO THIS EVIL. Go out and work; go out and preach; go out and instruct others. Go out and seek to win souls. Sow in the morning, sow in the evening, sow at night, sow all day long, for you can never tell what God will bless; but by this constant sowing, you will prove to demonstration that you are not observing the winds, nor regarding the clouds. Let us give no heed to the winds and clouds of doctrine that are everywhere about us now.
Lastly, let us follow the Lord’s mind, come what will. In a word, set your face, like a flint, to serve God, by the maintenance of His truth, by your holy life, by the savour of your Christian character; and, that being done, defy earth and hell. If there were a crowd of devils between you and Christ, kick a lane through them by holy faith. They will fly before you. If you have but the courage to make an advance, they cannot stop you. You shall make a clear gangway through legions of them. Only be strong, and of good courage, and do not regard even the clouds from hell, or blasts from the infernal pit; but go straight on in the path of right, and, God being with you, you shall sow and you shall reap, unto His eternal glory.
Excerpted from the sermon titled “Sowing in the Wind; Reaping under Clouds” (Ecclesiastes 9:4) by CH Spurgeon dated 3 July 1890. You are encouraged to read the full text of the sermon from https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/sowing-in-the-wind-reaping-under-clouds/#flipbook/