As men, we are called to invest into our families. Sure, it means investing a lot of money, but think more about time, resources and bringing up our kids to love God and obediently follow Jesus for a lifetime. When you think of working hard toward a future result, I tend to think of farming.
And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. (2 Timothy 2:6)
Paul brings up a farmer as one of three illustrations of a faithful servant of the gospel. The other two (soldier and athlete) sound a bit more exciting. Although it’s not Paul’s intent, the truth is that a farmer leads quite an exciting life. Really, he does!
A farmer works one of the most dangerous careers a person can choose. Soldiers may face greater dangers from time to time, but a farmer lives and works between sky and earth everyday. In our day, farming always outranks any other career in producing work-related injuries and death. Farming is not for dabblers, cowards, or the lazy. Farmers can teach us a lot about faith.
In comparison with athletics and soldiering, farming helps us understand the persistent and patient parts of faith. Action and results come fairly quickly for athletes and soldiers, but not for farmers. They place a seed in the ground and later return to harvest the results, but the time between those two actions can be considerable. Successful farmers know how to wait. That is what faith is all about (Hebrews 11:1). Faith looks toward the future. Farmers may not enjoy waiting; but they learn to do it. Waiting doesn’t usually mean doing nothing, but the hardest part of waiting is the waiting.
Farming comes up various times in Scripture.
- Jesus used many farming situations in his parables (Matthew 13).
- Paul discussed the parallels between farming and the development of believers (1 Corinthians 3:1-9).
In these passages, the farmer usually represents God or an evangelist.
In 2 Timothy 2:6 we get to see ourselves as farmers, and with that privilege comes responsibility. If we’re going to “enjoy the fruit” of our labors, then we had better be “hardworking.” The farmer who is not hardworking will reap what he sows; little or nothing.
A wise farmer knows what he can’t do.
- He can’t put life in a seed.
- He can’t make it rain.
- He can’t force the seed to grow.
There’s much that’s out of his hands. But he does his part. He plants, he waters, he cultivates, and he waits! As believers,
- We plant seeds (acts of obedience to God) in one another’s lives.
- We deposit seeds (the gospel) in the lives of those who don’t know Christ.
The actual results of these actions are in God’s hands, but we often get to be the first to enjoy those results because we’re there. If we recognize the way we are farmers, we remember we are in the field every day. Every moment becomes a new opportunity to persistently plant, followed by patient waiting to see what God will do.