HARDWORKING FARMER: ton kopionta (PAPMSA) georgon (3SPAI): (Is
28:24, 25;28:26, Mt 9:37, 38; 20:1; 21:33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41; Lk 10:2; Jn 4:35;36,37,
38 1Co 3:6, 7, 9; 9:7, 8, 9, 10, 11)
FRUITFUL REAPING LATER!
A Simple Axiom - One of the
most important instructions for a fruitful life (now but especially
eternity) is to work hard.
the tiller of the soil who labors
with wearisome effort (Wuest)
harvestman who labors in the field
Biblical Discussion of Agriculture
Sermons by C H Spurgeon - Index to 19 messages
John MacArthur outlines
2Timothy 2 as follows...
The Patterns of a Man of God
A. Paul (2Ti
2:1, 2) (Ed: A grace enabled man - cp 1Co 15:10, 2Co 12:9, 10)
B. A Soldier (2Ti 2:3, 4)
C. An Athlete (2Ti 2:5)
D. A Farmer (2Ti 2:6, 7)
E. Jesus (2Ti 2:8-13)
F. A Worker (2Ti 2:14-19)
G. A Vessel (2Ti 2:20-23)
H. A Servant (2Ti 2:24-26)
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word
Ryrie sees 2Timothy 2 as
illustrative of various aspects of the believer...
(2Ti 2:3, 4). He suffers hardship and is totally focused on pleasing his
Athlete (2Ti 2:5). He follows the rules (the Word of God).
Farmer (2Ti 2:6). He receives a reward.
Slave (2Ti 2:24, 25, 26). He patiently seeks to bring remedial
correction to wayward people.
All these fall into the category of sanctification.
(From Ryrie's Practical Guide to Communicating Bible Doctrine)
Paul uses multiple pictures (terms
of comparison) in this chapter to illustrate various facets
of the Christian life and each one is worthy of mediation (cp making it
your habit to
= 2Ti 2:7-note):
Son/Child (2Ti 2:1-note)
Teacher (2Ti 2:2-note)
Soldier (2Ti 2:3,4 -
Athlete (2Ti 2:5 -note)
Farmer (2Ti 2:6 -
Prisoner (2Ti 2:9 -note,
Workman (2Ti 2:15 -note)
Vessel (2Ti 2:21-note)
Bondservant (2Ti 2:24-note)
The hardworking farmer -
This is clearly a
metaphor (see discussion of terms of comparison).
It behooves the serious student of the Word to query times of comparison
with the 5W/H'S.
Why is Paul using this word picture? What is he seeking to convey?, etc.
labor, fatigue) This root word
study) is used in secular Greek of “a
beating,” “weariness” (as though one had been beaten) and “exertion,”
was the proper word for physical tiredness induced by work, exertion or
heat. Kopiao means to
to exhibit great effort and exertion, to the point of sweat and
exhaustion. To physically become worn out, weary or faint. To engage in hard work
with the implication of difficulty
present tense pictures continual wearying, tiring activity.
This is the "Christian farmer's" way of life. Momentary light affliction
is producing for such "farmers" an eternal weight of glory far beyond
all comparison (cp 2Co 4:17).
Kopiao speaks of intense,
hard, wearisome toil even to the
point of utter exhaustion if necessary. The work described by
kopiao was left one so weary it was as if the person had
taken a beating. Kopiao
describes not so much the actual exertion as the weariness which follows
the straining of all one's powers to the utmost.
Lightfoot says that kopiao...
is used especially of the labor undergone by the athlete in his
MacArthur adds that kopiao
does not stress
the amount of work, but rather the effort. A man’s reward from God is
proportional to the excellence of his ministry and the effort he puts
into it. Excellence combined with diligence mark a man worthy of the
highest honor. (MacArthur,
John: 1Timothy Moody Press
Kopiao is used 24 times in
the NT in the NASB and is translated: diligently labor, 1; grown
weary, 1; hard-working, 1; labor, 3; labored, 4; labors, 1; toil, 4;
wearied, 1; weary, 1; work hard, 1; worked, 2; worked hard, 1; worked
hard worked hard, 1; workers, 1; working hard, 1.
Matthew 6:28 (note)
"And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the
field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
- Command that conveys sense of urgency - Do it now! Don't delay!) to
Me, all who
weary (kopiao) and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest
(contest = Mt 11:29, 30)
Luke 5:5 And Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard
all night and caught nothing, but at Your bidding I will let down the
Luke 12:27 "Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither
toil nor spin; but I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory did not
clothe himself like one of these.
John 4:6 and Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being
wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about
the sixth hour.
John 4:38 "I sent you to reap that for which you have not
labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their
Acts 20:35 "In everything I showed you that by working
hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of
the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than
Romans 16:6 (note)
Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you.
Romans 16:12 (note)
Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the
beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 4:12 and we toil, working with our own
hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure;
1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and
His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more
than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.
1 Corinthians 16:16 that you also be in subjection to such men
and to everyone who helps in the work and labors.
Galatians 4:11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have
labored over you in vain.
Ephesians 4:28 (note)
Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor,
performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have
something to share with him who has need.
Philippians 2:16 (note)
holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have
cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
(note) And for this
purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which
mightily works within me.
1Thessalonians 5:12 (note)
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who
diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the
Lord and give you instruction,
1 Timothy 4:10 (note)
For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our
hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of
1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy
of double honor, especially those who work hard at
preaching and teaching.
2 Timothy 2:6 (note)
The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive
his share of the crops.
Revelation 2:3 (note) and
you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have
not grown weary.
Kopiao is used 34 times in
(Dt 25:18; Jos 24:13;
Jdg 5:26; 1Sa 6:12; 14:31; 17:39; 2Sa 17:2; 23:7, 10; Job 2:9; 20:18;
39:16; Ps. 6:6; 69:3; 127:1; Pr 4:12; Is 5:27; 16:12; 30:4; 31:3;
33:24; 40:28, 30, 31; 43:22; 45:14; 46:1; 47:13, 15; 49:4; 57:10; 63:13;
65:23; Jer 2:24; 17:16; 51:58; La 5:5).
means to become emotionally fatigued and/or discouraged and thus to lose
heart and/or give up.
Jesus addressing the church
at Ephesus says...
And hast borne, and hast patience,
and for my name's sake hast laboured (kopiao), and hast
not fainted. (Re 2:3KJV-note)
Are you growing weary in your
Christian life? Look to Jesus and His exhortation which is timeless and
filled with edifying wisdom. Dear child of the King, press on in His
power, for He has already won the victory, and though your battle may
now seem intense, it is only for a short time compared to eternity!)
(See commentary on Isaiah 40:31 =
How to "Fly Like An Eagle")
Paul explained to the Corinthians
the "secret" of his ability to work hard writing...
But (despite the fact that he was the least of all apostles) by the
grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain;
labored (kopiao) even more than all of them, yet
(Note: this is the key to life on the highest plain, a life that bears
much fruit, fruit that endures for eternity) not I, but the grace of God with
me (1Cor 15:10)
Here is the "secret" of the Christian life in a nutshell! Not you
striving (referring to your "natural" strength) to live the Christian
life, but learning to die to self (cp Mk 8:34, 35) that He might live
His life (in His supernatural strength) through you. To a large extent,
this is a mysterious coalition or cooperation and one which is difficult
to explain but it is the (only) way of victorious living in Christ,
abiding in the Vine living (Jn 15:5), a walking by the Spirit type life
Paul's deep desire to "present every man complete in Christ"
caused him to "labor (kopiao),
striving according to His power, which mightily" worked within him (Col
Col 1:28; 29).
This use by Paul gives us
insight what is entailed by the picture of a hardworking
These passages in Colossians describe the balance one should seek in
their Christian life and ministry.
J B Phillips paraphrases
Colossians 1:29-note this way...
This is what I am working at all the
time, with all the strength that God gives me.
J Vernon McGee commenting
on Colossians adds...
Oh, this should be the desire of everyone today who is working for
Christ—that He would work in us mightily to do two things: to get out
the gospel that men might be saved and then to build them up in the
faith. These are the two things the church should be doing today. (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson
Paul writing to the
we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who
diligently labor (kopiao) among you, and have charge
over you in the Lord and give you instruction. (see note
The faithful pastor works hard among his
people and ministers to them as a shepherd cares for his sheep. In a
parallel instruction Paul says to
Let the elders who rule well be
considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard
at preaching and teaching. (1Ti 5:17)
There has to be a commitment to diligence and hard
work when you search the Scriptures in preparation for preaching and
teaching. The preacher and teacher must be the very opposite of
the “sluggard” in Proverbs...
The sluggard does not plow after the
autumn, So he begs during the harvest and has nothing. (Pr 20:4)
I passed by the field of the
sluggard, and by the vineyard of the man lacking sense. And behold, it
was completely overgrown with thistles. Its surface was covered with
nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. (Pr 24:30, 31)
If the farmer works hard, he
should be the first to take his share of the crops a principle found
even in the Old Testament...
(Moses asks) And who is the man that
has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him
depart and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another
man begin to use its fruit. (Dt. 20:6)
Proverbs instructs us
He who tends the fig tree will eat
its fruit; And he who cares for his master will be honored. (Pr 27:18).
Constable explains that...
A farmer must continue to sow seed
and water it if he or she wants to harvest its fruit. Likewise the
farmer for Christ must plant and nourish the gospel seed if he or she
eventually expects to reap the fruit of God’s Word in the lives of
people. All three illustrations imply dogged persistence and hold out
the prospect of reward for the faithful. (Expository
Hendriksen commenting on the
metaphor of God's workman as a farmer emphasizes that...
Not only will his own faith be
strengthened, his hope quickened, his love deepened, and the flame of
his gift enlivened, so that he will be blessed “in his doing” (Jas
1:25 [note] - But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of
liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an
effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.), but in
addition he will see in the lives of others the beginnings of those
glorious fruits that are mentioned in Gal 5:22, 23 (see notes
Ga 5:22; 23). (Hendriksen,
W., & Kistemaker, S. J. NT Commentary Set. Baker Book
And so we see Paul write to the
saints at Rome...
And I do not want you to be unaware,
brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been
prevented thus far) in order that I might obtain some fruit (karpos)
among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. (Ro 1:13-note)
In his letter to the beloved saints
at Philippi Paul writes...
But if I am to live on in the flesh,
this will mean fruitful (karpos)
labor (ergon - ergs a unit to measure work or energy expended) for me;
and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both
directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is
very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for
your sake. (Php 1:22, 23, 24-notes)
(See notes on similar idea in 1Th 2:19, 20-note)
The angel explained to Daniel this
same principle of rewards to faithful farmers declaring that...
those who have insight will shine
brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who
lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Da
“When all is said and
there is more said than done.”
It ought not to be that way!
Luther worked so hard that many days, according to his
biographers, he fell into bed. Moody’s bedtime prayer on one
occasion, as he rolled his bulk into bed, was, “Lord, I’m tired!
Amen.” John Wesley rode sixty to seventy miles many days of his
life and preached an average of three sermons a day, whether he
was riding or not. Alexander Maclaren would get to his office when
the workmen went to work so he could hear their boots outside, and
would put on workmen’s boots to remind him why he was in his
study. G. Campbell Morgan kept a newspaper clipping for twenty
years, entitled “Sheer Hard Work,” and said:
What is true of the
minister is true of every man who bears the name of Christ.
We have not begun to touch the great business of salvation
when we have sung, “Rescue the perishing, care for the
dying.” We have not entered into the business of
evangelizing the city or the world until we have put our own
lives into the business, our own immediate physical
endeavor, inspired by spiritual devotion.
Paul’s ministerial drive is a
model for us all. We will never have an authentic, apostolic ministry
unless we are willing to work to the point of exhaustion
R. K. Colossians and Philemon: The Supremacy of Christ: Crossway
In his first letter to Timothy Paul explained that he was willing to labor (kopiao)
and strive to discipline himself for godliness because he knew that
"godliness is profitable for all things" holding "promise for
the present life and also for the life to come" (1Ti 4:7, 8,
9, 10, 11-see notes
Later in that same epistle Paul associated (as in this verse on the
hardworking farmer) the idea of hard work and reward, writing:
the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor,
especially those who
(kopiao) at preaching and
teaching. (1Ti 5:1)
Kopiao was sometimes used to refer to athletic training.
It is not surprising that kopiao
was also a verb commonly used in descriptions of the down-trodden masses of the Roman
Kopiao emphasizes the
intensity of labor required of Christian farmers who would be about the
business of making disciples. Simply put...it's hard work!
James reminds us that a
farmer needed patience
telling his readers
Be patient, therefore, brethren,
until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the
waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it,
until it gets the early and late rains.
As someone has said
The harvest is not the end of the
meeting but at the end of the age! Amen
Those who labor for the Lord
are blessed and rewarded here and hereafter.
(georgos from ge = the earth + ergo = to
work) describes one who tills or works the soil or the ground. A
husbandman (one that plows and cultivates land).
Biblical Discussion of Agriculture
Handbook of Biblical Manners- Agriculture- NB: Number refers to ill. #
not page #
Sermons by C H Spurgeon - Index to 19 messages
Georgos - 19x in 17
Matthew 21:33 "Listen to
another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND
PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A
TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey.
34 "When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to
the vine-growers to receive his produce. 35 "The
vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and
stoned a third....38 "But when the vine-growers saw the
son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us
kill him and seize his inheritance.'...40 "Therefore when
the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those
vine-growers?" 41 They said to Him, "He will bring those
wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to
other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper
Mark 12:1 And He began to speak
to them in parables: "A man PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL
AROUND IT, AND DUG A VAT UNDER THE WINE PRESS AND BUILT A TOWER,
and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. 2 "At the
harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to
receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the
vine-growers....7 "But those vine-growers said to one
another, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the
inheritance will be ours!'...9 "What will the owner of the
vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will
give the vineyard to others.
Luke 20:9 And He began to tell
the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard and rented it
out to vine-growers, and went on a journey for a long time. 10
"At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, so that
they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but the
vine-growers beat him and sent him away empty-handed....14
"But when the vine-growers saw him, they reasoned with one
another, saying, 'This is the heir; let us kill him so that the
inheritance will be ours.'...16 "He will come and destroy
these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others." When
they heard it, they said, "May it never be!"
John 15:1 "I am the true vine,
and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 Timothy 2:6 The hard-working
farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the
James 5:7 Therefore be
patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer
waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about
it, until it gets the early and late rains.
Georgos - 8 times in the
- Ge 9:20; 49:15;
Je 14:4; 31:24; 51:23; 52:16; Joel 1:11; Amos 5:16.
The church is a garden, and the
seed is the Word of God. Various servants plant, water, and
harvest the seed in due season. Timothy was not to be discouraged
if the harvest failed to come immediately. It takes time,
patience, and hard work to develop a fruitful garden. Like the
faithful farmer, the pastor should share in the blessings God
sends. “In due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).
W. W. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton,
Ill.: Victor Books)
Oswald Chambers comments
The worker has to have
discernment like that of a farmer, that is, he must know how to
watch, how to wait, and how to work with wonder. The farmer does
not wait with folded arms but with intense activity, he keeps at
it industriously until the harvest. (Approved Unto God)
Bernard writes that...
The main thought is that
labour, discipline, striving are the portion of him who would
succeed in any enterprise, be he soldier or athlete or farmer.
Preparation should be a daily
discipline in the life of a preacher. Indeed, it would be safe to
say that one of the greatest failings of the minister is
indiscipline....Observe how the apostle illustrates the need for
preparation as he describes the disciplined endurance of a
soldier, the disciplined exercise of a runner, and the disciplined
endeavors of a farmer. Then he climaxes the passage with those
words, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”
(2Ti 2:15). It is quite evident from this statement that Paul has
in mind, first, the preparation of the messenger, and second, the
preparation of the message. (Olford, S. F. Vol. 2: Institutes of
Biblical preaching : Volume two. Institutes of Biblical Preaching.
Memphis: Olford Ministries International)
is not a glamorous metaphor
like the athlete or soldier for the farmer begins his demanding work early and
often goes late, limited finally by the dimming light of day. His work
is often tedious, boring and unexciting. Not many farmers every
become celebrities unlike soldiers and athletes. He is
often called to endure cold, heat, rain, and drought. He plows whether
the soil is
hard or not. He waits not for a convenient time because
the seasons do not wait for him (2Ti 4:2-note). When
is time to plant, he
must plant. When weeds appear, he must extract them. When the
fruit ripens, he must harvest. What drives the farmer to labor under
such grueling, unpredictable conditions? Is it not because he is
looking forward to the bountiful harvest (2Pe 1:11-note).
But while he tarries, the bulk of his labor is
tedious, humdrum, and unexciting.
Unlike the teacher, the
soldier, or the athlete, a farmer often works alone with no
students to stimulate, no fellow soldiers to fight alongside and
no crowd in the stands to cheer him on. The lives of many
believers are like the farmer's life. To be sure, there may
be seasons of harvest excitement, but for the most part the
daily routine is often mundane and seemingly
unrewarding. But like the hardworking farmer, faithful believers are promised God’s blessing and
reward not only in this life but in that to come. Now they may be underpaid,
unjustly treated, or unappreciated but they have not seen the bountiful
harvest reward Christ will present to the faithful
Hughes sums up the
farmer's life, each of these characteristics having spiritual
1) early and long hours because
he could not afford to lose time; 2) constant toil (plowing,
sowing, tending, weeding, reaping, storing); 3) regular
disappointments—frosts, pests, and disease; 4) much
patience—everything happened at less than slow motion; and 5)
boredom. (Hughes, R. K., & Chapell, B. 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus :
Preaching the Word. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books)
><> ><> ><>
HARDWORKING FARMER - The patience
called for in the spiritual farmer waiting to see his eternal harvest
reminds me of the true story of Henry C. Morrison a little known "hardworking
in God's missionary fields, toiling some forty years in the
difficult fields of Africa. As the story is told, he became sick
and had to return home to America, and as providence would have
it, the boat he returned on was also carrying a well known guest.
As the great ocean liner docked in New York Harbor there was a
great crowd gathered to greet President Teddy Roosevelt who
received a grand welcome-home-party after his widely publicized
African Safari. Resentment seized the hardworking
Henry Morrison, and he turned to God saying "I have come back home
after all this time and service to the church and there is no one,
not even one person here to welcome me home." Then a small voice
came to Morrison reminding him "You're not home yet." Our ultimate
harvest is yet future and our future reward is out of this world!
><> ><> ><>
Robert Sheffield gives
the following illustration of hard work...
Paul used the illustration of a
farmer. The farmer is a hard worker. If you don’t apply this to
commitment and discipline, you won’t get anywhere. How often do
we experience hard labor and wearisome toil in our Christian
Some years ago in Canada I
joined a labor union to get some temporary work. On my first day
of working the foreman assigned me and two other laborers the job
of taking out of storage some large sheets of plywood at a
warehouse. The foreman dropped us off at the warehouse and said he
would be back for us at noon.
As soon as he left, the two
other men sat down, lit up their cigarettes, and relaxed. As a
Christian who believed in an honest day’s work for an honest
day’s pay, I went ahead and worked by myself. This so upset the
other two that they refused to be assigned with me the following
Many people don’t want to work
hard. This is true in the Christian world too. Few are committed
to the labor it takes to do the things God wants done. This is
what Paul encouraged Timothy to do. (Discipleship Journal: Issue
6. Colorado Springs: The Navigators/NavPress)
><> ><> ><>
OUGHT TO BE
THE FIRST TO RECEIVE HIS SHARE OF THE CROPS: dei (3SPAI) proton ton karpon metalambanein (PAN): (1Cor
9:23; Heb 10:36)
first claim on any crop that is harvested (NJB)
has the first claim on any crop that is harvested
to be the first to take of the fruit
must be the first partaker of the fruits
(1163) (dei) means is needful or necessary.
It describes a necessity growing out of a given situation, in this case
the fact that the spiritual farmer works hard at his tasks. Paul is
saying that the Christian farmer needs to be the first to partake of the
Ought to be the first to
receive - Must be the first to partake is a better translation. The
signifies that this is to be a continual necessity.
There is a similar allusion in first Corinthians where Paul asks...
Who at any time serves as a soldier
at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit
of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?
(1 Co 9:7) (As here in 2Timothy 2, Paul associates military service and
Receive his share (3335)
= with, denoting
association + lambáno = receive) means to receive as
one's share in or as one's part of. The idea is to share or
participate in something, in this case something which is
"imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in
heaven for you" (1Pe 1:4-note).
When the work becomes wearying, recall this truth to mind even as
did God's "farmer" Jeremiah...
14 I have become a
laughingstock to all my people, their mocking song all the day.
15 He has filled me with bitterness. He has made me drunk with
16 And He has broken my teeth with gravel. He has made me cower in
17 And my soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten
18 So I say, "My strength has perished, and so has my hope from
19 Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and
bitterness. (A prayer)
20 Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. (A choice
21 This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. ("This" = the
famous truths that follow)
22 The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His
compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.
24 "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who
26 It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the
LORD. (Waiting - Implies trust in His promises, His faithfulness
and is manifest in patience endurance in whatever task or
circumstance He has called us to for our good and His glory!)
Metalambano - 6x in the
NT - Acts 2:46; 24:25; 27:33; 2Ti 2:6; Heb. 6:7; 12:10
Dear set apart one (hagios
= holy one,
saint) of God, you have been graciously granted (a "grace gift") an allotment, for
you are God's workmanship (His "masterpiece" =
poiema) created in Christ Jesus for good works
which He prepared before you knew Him as Lord, so that now you should live your life
accomplishing those good works in His power and for
His glory (Eph 2:10-note,
So even as Joshua (representing Israel) had an allotment
granted to Israel by God (Josh 1:2), he still had to step out in faith and obedience to
lay hold of his share, for God explained to him that...
Every place on which the sole
of your foot treads (man's responsibility), I have given it to you
(God's sovereignty), just as I spoke to Moses...6 "Be
strong and courageous (man's responsibility), for you shall
give this people possession of the land which I swore to their
fathers to give them (Ge 12:6,7; 13:14,15; 15:18, 19, 20,21) (God's sovereignty) (Joshua 1:3,
4, 5, 6)
Scripture one can observe this God ordained, albeit mysterious juxtaposition of man's
responsibility and God's sovereignty.
(karpos) is used in its literal sense to
refer to fruit, produce or offspring, which describes that which is
produced by the inherent energy of a living organism.
what something naturally produces.
is used of the consequence of physical, mental, or spiritual
action. In the NT the figurative (metaphorical) uses predominate and
this is particularly true in the Gospels, where human actions and words
are viewed as fruit growing out of a person's essential being or
Biblical Discussion of Agriculture
Karpos refers to that which
originates or comes from something producing an effect or result
(benefit, advantage, profit, utility).
Karpos - 67x in 57v - Matt. 3:8, 10;
7:16ff; 12:33; 13:8, 26; 21:19, 34, 41, 43; Mk. 4:7f, 29; 11:14; 12:2;
Lk. 1:42; 3:8f; 6:43f; 8:8; 12:17; 13:6f, 9; 20:10; Jn. 4:36; 12:24;
15:2, 4f, 8, 16; Acts 2:30; Rom. 1:13; 6:21f; 15:28; 1 Co. 9:7; Gal.
5:22; Eph. 5:9; Phil. 1:11, 22; 4:17; 2 Tim. 2:6; 4:13; Heb. 12:11;
13:15; Jas. 3:17f; 5:7, 18; Rev. 22:2.
NAS renders karpos as --
benefit(2), crop(5), crops(2), descendants*(1), fruit(43),
fruitful(1),fruits(4), grain(1), harvest(1), proceeds(1), produce(4),
If you are a preacher or teacher
you understand completely what Paul is saying here in 2Timothy for you
always get more out of the sermon or lesson preparation than do the
hearers because you have (hopefully) been diligent to put much more into
it. I once heard Dr John MacArthur say that before he accepted the job
as pastor at Grace Church, he stipulated that they must ensure he had an
uninterrupted 30 hours each week to prepare his message. His logic was
how could he feed the sheep, if he himself had not been fed during the
week. The elders acquiesced and the fruit of Dr MacArthur's ministry is
well known around the world. I would add that such diligent preparers of
preaching and teaching also get great joy out of seeing their planted
seeds bear fruit in the lives of the Lord's disciples.
uses karpos as an expression for desirable, righteous qualities
in one’s life, the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-note; Gal
God's discipline in the believer's life, producing the peaceful fruit
of righteousness. (He 12:11-note)
Ironside writes that...
The farmer has his work to do: his plowing, sowing, harrowing, and
reaping before he can enjoy his fruit. We are here to labor; and oh,
what a day it will be when at last we come before our Lord at the
judgment-seat of Christ and become partakers of the fruit! How much it
will mean to any of us who have had the privilege of winning souls for
Christ, to stand at that judgment-seat with those whom we have brought
to Him, and say, "Behold I and the children whom Thou hast given me!"
How sweet His "Well done" will sound to these ears of ours in that day
Scripture catalogs 3 general kinds of spiritual fruit...
1) Spiritual attitudes that
characterize a Spirit-led believer -
2) Righteous actions - Ro
Php 4:16, 17-note;
He 12:11, 13:5-note
3) New converts - Ro
Life is the seedtime
Richards summarizes the Biblical concept of spiritual
fruit writing that...
Fruitfulness is a consistent
concept in the OT and the NT. The fruit God seeks in human beings
is expressed in righteous and loving acts that bring peace and harmony
to the individual and to society. But that fruit is foreign to
sinful human nature (the
flesh). Energized by sinful passions , fallen humanity acts
in ways that harm and bring dissension. God's solution is found in a
personal relationship with Jesus and in the supernatural working of
God's Spirit within the believer. As we live in intimate, obedient
relationship with Jesus (Jn 15:5, 16, 1Jn 2:6), God's Spirit energizes us
(Ezek 36:27, Php 2:13NLT-note) as we produce the
peaceable fruits of a righteousness (He 12:11-note,
Is 32:17, Ro 14:17-note,
Jas 3:17, 18, Ps 119:165-note) that can come only from the
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
Litfin comments that...
A diligent soldier gains the approval of his commanding officer; a
diligent athlete wins the victory; a diligent farmer wins the first . .
. share of the crops. The three illustrations have in common the point
that success is achieved through discipline (cf. 2Ti 1:7-note), hard
work, and single-mindedness.
J. F., Zuck, R. B., et al: The Bible Knowledge Commentary. 1985. Victor
People's Bible offers this question...
How does a pastor receive the firstfruits of his work? These are not
financial or earthly benefits, although the Lord promises those also.
The fruits of the pastor’s labors are spiritual, for his work is to sow
the seed of God’s Word. His members will receive spiritual fruits from
his faithful preaching. However, as the pastor studies the Word and
prepares a sermon or Bible study, he will reap a rich harvest of fruit
for himself in spiritual growth, in a strengthened faith, and in comfort
and joy through Christ. The sermon a pastor prepares for his people he
first preaches to himself. (Schuetze, A. W.. 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy,
Titus. The People's Bible. Milwaukee, Wis.: Northwestern Pub. House)
William MacDonald observes that...
According to all principles of righteousness, the one who labors to
bring forth the crops has a prior right to participate in them.
This would serve as an encouragement to Timothy, should he ever become
discouraged in his labor for the Lord. Such toil will not go unrewarded
(Gal 6:9, 1Co 15:58, 2Th 3:13, Jas 5:7, 8).
Although many will participate in the harvest in a coming day, yet
Timothy’s labor of love would not go unnoticed. Indeed, he would be the
first to partake of the fruit of his own labor.
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
William Kelly comments that...
There is a third maxim which has been singularly misunderstood by truly
spiritual minds. Yet the structure of the sentence is not really
obscure. The difficulty is due rather to a certain prejudice as to the
sense or its application. The figure is taken from agriculture, not from
military service nor from the well-known games. The stress is on the
“labouring husbandman”. The love of Christ must constrain and brotherly
love must continue, in order that the servant of Christ persevere
unintermittingly in his labours. Hence we find in the former Epistle
(1Ti 5:17) that, while the elders that rule well were to be counted
worthy of double honour, those are distinguished “especially” that
labour in the word and in teaching. So here, where the general service
of Christ is in question, the labouring husbandman ought first to
partake of the fruits. Impossible that God could deign to be a debtor to
any. “Each shall receive his own reward according to his own labour,”
whether the planter or the waterer or any other (1Co 3:8). For God is
not unrighteous in any case to forget our work and the love shown to His
name. But the labour of love has especial value in His sight. This may
be in very young saints (1Th 1:3-note), no less than the work of faith and
the patience of hope. It is most blessed where the servant of Christ is
sustained in such labour. “The labouring husbandman ought first
(whatever others may, and before all) to partake of the fruits”. It is
rather a truism that he must labour before partaking of the fruits, or
“labouring first must be partaker of the fruits” as the margin of the
Authorized Version says. But this is not the sense of the phrase in any
grammatical construction of it possible, nor, if it were, could it
afford so grave or so cheering a call to the labourer. Thus in the three
maxims of 2Ti 2:4, 5, 6 we have first the object or starting-point; then
the ways or means guarded, as well as the end; and lastly encouragement
along the road for him who labours in love, as faith does. (2 Timothy Commentary)
Vine has an excellent summary of karpos explaining that...
Karpos frequently in the New
Testament in its natural sense of that which is produced by the
inherent energy of a living organism, Matthew 13:8, and also, in a
derived sense, of the result, in the spiritual and moral sphere, of
the energy of the Holy Spirit operating in those who through faith are
brought into living union with Christ, John 15:4, 5.
Fruit is thus the outward
expression of power working inwardly, and so in itself beyond
observation, the character of the fruit giving evidence of the character
of the power that produces it, Mt 7:16
As lust manifests itself in works, the restless and disorderly
activities of the flesh, or principle of evil, in man, so the Spirit
manifests His presence in His “peaceable,” He 12:11
and orderly fruit.
In this connection fruit
presents an advance upon “works.” “Works” gives prominence to the notion
of activity; fruit directs attention to the power that works
Fruit is also used by the
apostle Paul of the converts resulting from his ministry, Php 1:22
and of the manifestation of the character of Christ in the lives of
believers in consequence of his ministry of the Word among them, Ro 1:13
and of the care of the believers for the poor, for this is the fruit, or
outward expression, of love, attesting its reality, Ro 15:28
and of the care of laborers in the gospel, for this is the fruit, or
outward expression, of thankfulness to God for spiritual blessings
enjoyed, attesting its reality, Php 4:17
The singular form, fruit, is
used here perhaps to suggest the unity and harmony of the character of
the Lord Jesus which is to be reproduced in the believer by the power of
the Holy Spirit, in contrast with the discordant and often mutually
antagonistic “works of the flesh.” In Christ actually, and in the
Christian potentially, the fruit of the Spirit is harmonious, the
various elements being mutually consistent, and each encouraging and
enhancing the rest in happy coordination and cooperation in that “new
man, which after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of
truth,” Eph 4:24
The verb “fruit-bearing,”
karpophoreo, is found in the New Testament in both the natural, Mark
4:28, and the spiritual sense, Matthew 13:23; Mark 4:20; Luke 8:15. The
two states of men, the regenerate and the unregenerate, are contrasted
in Ro 7:4, 5
in the former “the passions of sins,” i.e., sinful impulses, see at v.
24, below, bore fruit unto death, that is these activities arose out of
a state of alienation from God; in the latter the power of the
indwelling Spirit, who unites the soul with the risen Lord, bears fruit
unto God; so also Col 1:10
(note). Col 1:6
corresponds with Php 1:22
mentioned above. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
D. Edmond Hiebert
commenting on the image of a farmer notes
By the very nature
of his occupation the farmer toils to produce food for others. But if he
does not himself profit from the harvest produced, he will soon cease
farming. The Christian worker toils to produce food for others through
his study and teaching of the Word. But to remain spiritually effective,
he must first nourish his own spiritual life with the food he produces. In
1Ti 4:16 Paul urges Timothy,
“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching.” The order is
significant: “yourself and your teaching.” So the Christian worker has the
duty and privilege of being the first to partake of the fruit produced.
He must be willing to engage in hard and difficult toil in fulfilling
his duty. But he also has the rewarding privilege of first nurturing his
own spiritual life from the results of his labors. Faithful toil in the
Lord’s service has its rewards for the worker both here and hereafter.
The faithful Christian worker experiences blessings from his work now
vastly more rewarding than anything the world has to offer. (Bibliotheca Sacra,
1996, page 227, Dallas, Texas. Dallas Theological Seminary) (Bolding added)
Pauline Images of a Christian Leader
The word georgos, translated
“farmer,” means “a tiller of the soil,” (In the Authorized Version the
word is rendered “husbandman.”) Farming is an essential occupation but
it has no spectacular appeal or exciting glamour. Paul makes the hard
work of the farmer central in his picture. The participle kopionata
(“hardworking”) denotes toiling to the point of weariness and
exhaustion. Some innocent souls may harbor the illusion that the farmer
simply sits under his vine or fig tree and lets the ripe fruit fall into
his lap. But anyone having any acquaintance with farming knows that if
there is to be fruit there must first be hard, exhausting toil.
This image gives emphasis to the fact that Christian service is hard
work. Stott makes this remark: “This notion that Christian service is
hard work is so unpopular in some happy-go-lucky Christian circles today
that I feel the need to underline it.” Clearly Paul expected the
willingness to work hard to be a normal characteristic of the Christian
leader. Human hearts are the soil where the Christian leader sows the
seed of the Word of God and where the fruits of his labors are produced.
While never easy work, it is for the sake of the harvest that the Lord’s
husbandman gladly engages in the demanding toil.
But the intended point in Paul’s figure of the farmer is the fact that
the toil of the Christian worker has its present rewards. Because of his
persistent toil, the farmer “ought to be the first to receive his share
of the crops.”
Ought (dei) indicates that his
partaking of the fruit is a moral necessity. By the very nature of his
occupation the farmer toils to produce food for others. But if he does
not himself profit from the harvest produced, he will soon cease
farming. The Christian worker toils to produce food for others through
his study and teaching of the Word. But to remain spiritually effective,
he must first nourish his own spiritual life with the food he produces.
In 1Timothy 4:16 Paul urges Timothy, “Pay close attention to yourself
and to your teaching.” The order is significant: “yourself…your
teaching.” So the Christian worker has the duty and privilege of being
the first to partake of the fruit produced. He must be willing to engage
in hard and difficult toil in fulfilling his duty.
But he also has the rewarding privilege of first nurturing his own
spiritual life from the results of his labors. Faithful toil in the
Lord’s service has its rewards for the worker both here and hereafter.
The faithful Christian worker experiences blessings from his work now
vastly more rewarding than anything the world has to offer.
Paul’s fourth figure, that of the hardworking farmer, sets forth two
qualities needed by the Christian leader. He must be willing to
engage in difficult and exhausting toil in fulfillment of his
assignment. But he must also be sure to nurture his own spiritual life
from the results of his toil. (Pauline
Images of a Christian Leader -- By D. Edmond Hiebert BSac 133:531
Jul 1976) (Theological
Journal Subscription info) (List
of 22 journals - 500 yrs of articles searchable by topic or verse!
Incredible Online Resource!) (Bolding added)
In NT times, farm laborers
often were paid with a portion of the crops they helped to plant,
cultivate, and harvest. The hardworking farmer received not only a
greater share but also the first share of the crops. The preacher and the teacher always get more out of the
sermon or lesson than do the hearers because they put much more into it.
The corollary is that if the teacher is to have spiritual food for
the hearers, he must first be fed from the Word or he can't really
Farming is hard work, and it can have many
disappointments, but the rewards are worth it. Human hearts are the soil
where the Christian "farmer" sows the seed of the
Word of God and
where the fruits of his labors are produced (cp Lk 8:11, 12, 13,
14, 15, Mt 13:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, Mk 4:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, see
also 1Pe 1:23-note). Spiritual "farmers" get great joy
out of seeing planted seeds bear fruit in the lives of others.
Farmers work in faith because
they are ultimately dependent upon God to provide the rain and
sunshine which are necessary for crops to grow. Even then the
farmer must wait from seedtime to harvest to see if the harvest
will be good.
In context one aspect of the spiritual crop
would be an abundant harvest of "faithful men who are able to
teach others also." (2Ti 2:2-note)
Toiling through the changing
In the sunshine and the rain,
Zealous sowing with compassion
Yields a wealth of golden grain.
As Warren Wiersbe has
Witnessing is like farming—it
is a cooperative effort. One plows, one sows, one waters, but God
is the One who bring forth the harvest. (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
Paul speaks of the
reward that will accrue in the "spiritual bank account" of
those who plant spiritual seed writing...
I planted, Apollos watered, but
God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor
the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now
he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his
own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow
workers; you are God's field, God's building (Paul mixes metaphors
here). (1Cor 3:6, 7, 8, 9).
Jesus taught a similar
"farming" principle of cooperation declaring...
food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His
work (He goes on now to
explain the Father's "work" - His disciples do not understand that
which is from above, the hidden spiritual food, real "soul food",
for they are earthbound, mired by the limitations of fleshly
existence - Jesus' "food" is to obey and fulfill His Father's
will). Do you not say,
'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields,
that they are white for harvest. "Already he who reaps is
receiving wages, and is gathering fruit
= same word as "crops" here in Timothy) for life eternal; that he who
sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. "For in this case the
saying is true, 'One sows, and another reaps.' "I sent you to reap
that for which you have not labored (kopiao); others have
labored (kopiao), and you
have entered into their labor (kopos).
(John 4:34, 35, 36, 37, 38)
Guy King writes that...
In spite of the present cost,
it is all so infinitely worth-while. If, from down here, we look
on, or if, from up there, we look back, we shall confess how
gloriously desirable the life has turned out to be. "I reckon that
the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared
with the glory which shall be revealed . . .", says Ro 8:18 (note).
"He had respect unto the recompence of the reward," says
He 11:26 (note).
"Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame", says He 12:2 (note).
Well, what has our present passage to say about these abundantly
Take that phrase "Partaker of
the fruits". That means, doesn't it, that we shall ourselves
receive some enjoyment and enrichment from our labours. Done for
Him, and done for others, yet we ourselves shall have gains for
our pains. One is forcibly reminded of that beautiful provision in
Dt 25:4: "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth
out the corn."
That is a hard job that the
poor beast has got, very tiring and very boring; but why take his
muzzle off? So that even while he treads the corn, he may eat of
the corn. Working for others, he is a gainer himself. While he
feeds others, he himself is fed. A beautiful provision of GOD for
His dumb creatures' welfare; and, after a spiritual manner, a
beautiful rule of His service. Is our Christian work strenuous and
sacrificial? Well, our own soul will be satisfied in it. That is
the grateful testimony of every earnest Christian worker right
down the years.
><> ><> ><>
SUCCESSFUL or FAITHFUL? -
Speaking in Edinburgh,
missionary John Williams held his audience spellbound with
thrilling accounts of God's work among the tribes-people of the
New Hebrides Islands. A soft-spoken missionary followed Williams
with a brief report of his work. In a low and trembling voice he
My friends, I have no
remarkable success to relate like Mr. Williams. I've labored for
Christ in a far-off land for many years and have seen only small
results. But I have this comfort: when the Master comes to reckon
with His servants, He will not say, `Well done, thou good and
successful servant,' but `well done, thou good and faithful
servant.' I have tried to be faithful!.
Work done well for Christ
receive a "well done" from Christ.
><> ><> ><>
THE CALL TO PERSEVERANCE
LIKE A FARMER - Do you ever feel like just quitting and giving
up? Do you get so tired that you feel you cannot go another step?
The Christian believer is not immune to these feelings, but the
challenge is to persevere through them. For example...
The folklore surrounding Poland's famous concert pianist and prime
minister, Ignace Paderewski, includes this story:
A mother, wishing to encourage
her young son's progress at the piano, bought tickets for a
Paderewski performance. When the night arrived, they found their
seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic
Steinway waiting on stage.
Soon the mother found a friend to talk to, and the boy slipped
away. When eight o'clock arrived, the spotlights came on, the
audience quieted, and only then did they notice the boy up on the
bench, innocently picking out "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
His mother gasped, but before she could retrieve her son, the
master appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard.
"Don't quit—keep playing," he whispered to the boy. Leaning over,
Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a
bass part. Soon his right arm reached around the other side,
encircling the child, to add a running obbligato. Together, the
old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerized. [Craig
B. Larson, Editor. Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, p.221].
Serving the Lord is hard work.
Using your own strength will exhaust you and you will be tempted
to quit. But using God's strength as you work hard will produce
beautiful music.(From Practical Illustrations: Volume 7)
><> ><> ><>
FAITHFULNESS & FRUITFULNESS
A deacon rebuked an elderly
preacher one Sunday morning before the service.
"Pastor," said the man,
"something must be wrong with your preaching and your work.
There's been only one person added to the church in a whole year,
and he's just a boy."
The minister listened, his eyes
moistening and his thin hand trembling.
"I feel it all," he replied,
"but God knows I've tried to do my duty."
On that day the minister's
heart was heavy as he stood before his flock. As he finished the
message, he felt a strong inclination to resign. After everyone
else had left, that one new boy came to him and asked,
"Do you think if I worked hard
for an education, I could become a preacher—perhaps a missionary?"
Again tears welled up in the
"Ah, this heals the ache I
feel," he said.
"Robert, I see the Divine hand
now. May God bless you, my boy. Yes, I think you will become a
Many years later an aged
missionary returned to London from Africa. People spoke his name
with reverence. Nobles invited him to their homes. He had added
many souls to the church of Jesus Christ, reaching even some of
Africa's most savage chiefs. His name was Robert Moffat,
the same Robert who years before had spoken to the pastor on that
Sunday morning in the old Scottish church.
Our service for Christ may sometimes seem fruitless. We
wonder if anything significant is happening. But if we are
faithful, God will give the increase. —D J De Haan (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted
by permission. All rights reserved)
Fruitfulness is His reward.
><> ><> ><>
O dearly beloved
whoever and wherever you are, do
not lose heart in doing good, for
in due time (you) shall reap if (you) do not grow weary
- a command that can even convey a sense of urgency. Do this now! Don't
delay!) Him Who has endured such hostility by sinners against
Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. (He 12:3-note)
Being fully confident that
momentary, light affliction is
producing for (you) an eternal weight of glory far beyond all
comparison (2Cor 4:17-note)
Finally, Paul adds this
great exhortation to which all believers do well to pay heed...
- forces you to observe and query the context), my beloved brethren,
calls for this as a lifestyle - what God commands, He enables!) steadfast, immovable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord (Who's work? - see Eph 2:10-note,
compare Jn 15:5), knowing that your toil (kopos) is not in
vain in the Lord. (1Co 15:58-note)
A believer visiting a mission
field said to one of the dedicated workers, "My, you certainly are
buried out here!"
To which the missionary quietly replied,
not buried—we were planted! We buried
ourselves (died with Christ, daily denial of self, Mk 8:34, 35,
36, 37) long before we
ever arrived on this field!
summarizes these three metaphors writing that...
One thing remains in all three
pictures. The soldier is upheld by the thought of final victory.
The athlete is upheld by the vision of the crown. The husbandman
is upheld by the hope of the harvest. Each submits to the
discipline and the toil for the sake of the glory which shall be.
It is so with the Christian. The Christian struggle is not without
a goal; it is always going somewhere. The Christian can be certain
that after the effort of the Christian life, there comes the joy
of heaven; and the greater the struggle, the greater the joy. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press
Vine adds this
The three illustrations are
taken from everyday life and each is indicative of patient,
self-sacrificing and enduring toil. Again, there are three
respective incentives. The first is that of pleasing the Lord. The
second is the obtaining of the reward in the day to come. The
third is that of partaking of the fruits of labor. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Steven Cole writes
To be a fruitful Christian,
willingly embrace the hardship of the farmer: Hard, unexciting
work with no immediate payback (2Ti 2:6).Note three things:
A. Much Christian work is
Compared to the lives of the
soldier and the athlete, the life of a farmer is rather boring.
The soldier lives on the edge of life and death on the
battlefield. The athlete has the thrill of the cheering crowd as
he runs toward the goal. But the farmer works long and hard,
plowing and planting, and goes home tired. About the most exciting
thing he can see is, “The corn grew two inches last week!”
Whoopee! Why does he do it? He is looking for the harvest.
Spiritually, there are a few
who have “exciting” ministries. They’re invited to speak all over
the world. They have thousands flocking to hear them or buying
their books. Then there are the rest of us, out in the fields
waiting for the corn to grow. Every week, I try to sow the seed of
God’s Word into hearts, but people don’t usually change over
night. Sometimes bad storms or pests
destroy the plants before they bear fruit. But you keep sowing,
trusting God to bring the increase of the harvest.
B. Christian work is tiring.
The Greek word that Paul uses
for “hardworking” means to toil or strive so as to become weary
and tired. He uses it to describe pastors who “work hard in
preaching and teaching” (1Ti 5:17). He commends those in Rome who
“worked hard” in the Lord (Ro 16:6, 12). He often mentions his own
labor or toil in the Lord’s work (1Cor. 15:10; 2Cor. 6:4; Gal.
4:11; Phil. 2:16; Col.1:29-2:1; 1Ti 4:10). Much Christian work is
mentally and emotionally draining. Even Jesus was so tired that He
could fall asleep in a small boat in a fierce storm! Expect to be
tired as part of the hardship of serving the Lord.
C. The reward comes at the
end of the age, not at the end of the meeting.
The harvest is at the end of
the age. Often we will not know what God accomplished through our
labors or our prayers or our gifts until we stand before Him. Then
we will meet people who are in heaven because we sowed the seed
through our words or our gifts or our good deeds. We will enjoy a
harvest of eternal joy! (Read
Pastor Cole's full sermon)
><> ><> ><>
As soldiers we are to single
mindedly focus on pleasing our Lord alone.
As athletes we must play by the rules God has ordained.
As farmers we must be willing to work hard in the present,
confident that we shall have future gain.
><> ><> ><>
In light of
brevity of our life and the length of eternity and the certainty of the
rewards or loss of rewards at the
the judgment seat of Christ
ponder these words by the great missionary to Burma,
Adoniram Judson (biography)
A life once spent is irrevocable. It
will remain to be contemplated through eternity...the same may be said
of each day. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks
which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever...each day will not only
be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting
destiny....How shall we then wish to see each day marked with
usefulness...! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future
is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, resolve to send the day
into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at
night let us reflect that one more day is irrevocably gone, indelibly
Coram Deo living before the face of God, Carpe Diem seizing
the day, because Tempus Fugit, time flies, and so our daily
prayer should be
So teach us to number our days,
we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom (Ps
doing all things as "for the Lord"
that they may see our good works and glorify our Father Who is in
heaven. (Mt 5:16-note)
No Looking Back - When I was a
boy on the farm, my dad would tell me, "You can't plow a straight row if
you look back." You can test this for yourself by looking back as you
walk through snow or along a sandy beach. Your tracks won't be straight.
A good farmer doesn't look back once he has put his hand to the plow.
Jesus used this analogy to teach us that if we are to be His disciples
we must make a complete break with all loyalties that hinder our
relationship with Him.
Total allegiance to God is a principle that is rooted in the Old
Testament. The Israelites, after being freed from slavery and fed by
supernatural means, looked back longingly to the days when they enjoyed
fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic in Egypt (Nu
11:5-6). God was greatly displeased, and He judged His people. Their
looking back indicated a lack of commitment to Him.
Today, people who cling to old sins and the worldly pleasures they
enjoyed before becoming Christians cannot be loyal disciples of Jesus
Christ. When we repent and believe in Him, we become citizens of a new
kingdom. We are to break with the sins of the past.
Discipleship means no looking back (Lk 17:32)! — Herbert Vander Lugt
I had always heard that if a farmer
keeps his eyes on a distant object while he's plowing, he'll make a
straight furrow. So I tested the principle when I mowed my lawn. Sure
enough, my first cut was a straight swath of new-mown turf.
If you can plow a straight furrow or mow in a straight line by keeping
your eyes fixed on a distant object, surely the principle should also be
true of life--especially if the object on which you fix your gaze is the
same yesterday, today, and forever.
Planting Time - Somewhere in
the world right now a farmer is dropping seeds into the ground. Soon
those seeds will begin to change the place where they were planted. The
carefully prepared soil that appears barren today will become a field
ready for harvest.
In the same way, New Year’s resolutions can be seeds to alter the
landscape of life for others and ourselves. This prayer of Saint Francis
of Assisi is a powerful model of this longing to bring positive change
in a hurting world:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me
sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where
there is sadness, joy.
A farmer who sows wheat is never surprised when wheat grows from the
ground where it was planted. That’s the universal law of sowing and
reaping. Paul used it to illustrate a corresponding spiritual principle:
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he
will also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Our sinful nature says, “Satisfy yourself,”
while the Spirit urges us to please God (Ga 6:8).
Today is planting time. God has promised: “In due season we shall reap
if we do not lose heart” (Gal 6:9). — David C. McCasland
Let’s sow good deeds though life be
And leave the harvest time with Him;
Let’s give and serve as to the Lord
And look to Him for our reward.
Sow today what you want to reap tomorrow.
The reward of the laboring
(1) This does not mean that the
husbandman would be the first to partake of the fruits, but that he must
first labour before he obtained the reward. There is evidently an
emphasis on the fact that a laborious husbandman was the most fully
entitled to reward.
(2) The minister of Christ must
plough and sow before he can reap; he must use all laborious diligence
in his calling, not discouraged because he does not at once see the
fruits of his labour, for the seed may not sprout up quickly, but ever
looking upward for the dews of Heaven's grace to descend upon the wide
field of his ministry. (Homily by T. Croskery)
The husbandman (From Homily by R.
Finlayson). The husbandman has to extract bread from the
unwilling ground; and he may have to do this under unfavorable
conditions of weather. He has need, then, for hard and persistent
labour, especially in the season of spring. In the sweat of his face he
has to prepare the soil and put in the seed. It is only the husbandman
that thus exerts himself that comes to the front in the time of fruit.
He is eating of the new corn, when the husbandman who has not exerted
himself is far behind.
In the same way the minister has
to extract good products from unwilling hearts, and not always under
favorable conditions from without. Hard work is needed to prepare
the soil and to put in the seed. If he engages in hard work, he has the
prospect of the farmer, viz. the fruit of his own labour. He will have
joy in those for whom he has laboured — partly in this world, chiefly in
the next world. It is the minister who does not grudge hard service that
comes to the front in the enjoyment of fruit, while he who gives
grudging service lags behind in the reward.
Appended call to attention. “Consider
command calling for continuous attention - only possible in a "Christian
farmer" who is filled with the enabling grace and power of the Holy
Spirit!) what I say; for the Lord shall give thee understanding in all
What Paul said was easily understood;
but it needed to be thoroughly weighed so as to become spiritual
strengthening to Timothy. It plainly meant that he was to set himself to
hard work, and that he need not expect easy outward conditions of
working; when the mind is made up to it, the hardest work is often felt
to be light. This was a lesson which he wished Timothy to learn, with
the Lord's promised and all-sufficient assistance.
The Laboring Husbandman - The
order of the Greek shows that the emphatic word is "labours." It is the
labouring husbandman who must be the first to partake of the fruits. It
is the man who works hard and with a will, and not the one who works
listlessly or looks despondently on, who, according to all moral fitness
and the nature of things, ought to have the first share in the fruits.
This interpretation does justice to the Greek as it stands, without
resorting to any manipulation of the apostle's language. Moreover, it
brings the saying into perfect harmony with the context. It is quite
evident that the three metaphors are parallel to one another, and are
intended to teach the same lesson. In each of them we have two things
placed side by side—a prize, and the method to be observed in obtaining
it. Do you, ass Christian soldier on service, wish for the approbation
of Him who has enrolled you. Then you must avoid the entanglements which
would interfere with your service. Do you, as a Christian athlete, wish
for the crown of victory? Then you must not evade the rules of the
contest. Do you, as a Christian husbandman, wish to be among the first
to enjoy the harvest? Then you must be foremost in toil. (A. Plummer, D.
The Minister a Husbandman
1. He must prepare good seed—i.e.,
sound doctrine. For in this sense we may truly say: what a man soweth,
he shall reap; such as thy seed is, such will be thy harvest.
2. Understand the nature of the soil, the spiritual estate of thy
people, and let the seed be in degree and measure suitable. Seed that is
hot and dry must be sown in a cold and moist ground; if cold and moist,
in a land that is hot and dry, else no multiplication. He that preaches
mercy to the wicked is like him who soweth wheat on dry sandy mountains;
judgment to the righteous, rye in wet and watery valleys—neither of both
will, can prosper.
3. Get skill in the manner of sowing.
4. When the seed is sown, weeds will grow up with it. These must be
plucked up, kept under, else the corn will not prosper.
5. In any case, go not thou beyond thy bounds, but sow in that soil
where God commands thee. That great seedsman, Paul, had ill success
among the Jews, being chiefly sent to teach the Gentiles.
6. Cast not off thy calling; wax not weary in this husbandry; and to
encourage thee, consider the excellency of thy function. The husbandman
waiteth long; be thou also patient, for a time of gathering will
come—shall come. (J. Barlow, D. D.)
What the Christian Teacher Can
Learn From the Husbandman
1 No fruit without labour.
2. No labour without reward. (Van Oosterzee.)
The Minister a Husbandman
1. He must cultivate the people, and
sow the good seed.
2. He must not be discouraged if he does not reap fruit at once.
3. As the fruits of the ground sustain the husbandman, so should the
people sustain the minister. (W. Burkitt, M. A.)
Reward of Work - A few years
since, Motley shot up to the first position as an historian. Many
wondered; but it was no wonder. He had wrought patiently for years in
the libraries of the Old and New Worlds, unseen of men. The success of
the great artist Dore was years of study in the hospitals, and practice
in the studio behind it. This path to success is open to all. (New
Cyclopaedia of Illustrations.)
No Work, No Reward - Gilbert
Wakefield tells us that he wrote his own memoirs, a large octavo, in six
or eight days. It cost him nothing, and, what is very natural, is worth
nothing, You might yawn scores of such books into existence; but who
would be the wiser or better? We all like gold, but dread the digging.
The cat loves the fish, but will not wade to catch them. (J. Todd, D.
The Pleasure of Sloth Inconsistent with the Reward of Toil - They
are utterly out that think to have the pleasure of sloth and the guerdon
of goodness. (J. Trapp.)
Work and Joy - Work is
heaven's condition of prosperity and enjoyment in everything. A workless
world would be a joyless world. (Homilist.)
Partaking of the Fruit - A
young man came to a man of ninety years of age, and said to him, "How
have you made out to live so long and be so well?" The old man took the
youngster to an orchard, and; pointing to some large trees full of
apples, said, "I planted these trees when I was a boy, and do you wonder
that now I am permitted to gather the fruit of them?" We gather in old
age what we plant in our youth. Sow to the wind, end we reap the
whirlwind. Plant in early life the right kind of a Christian character,
and you will eat luscious fruit in old age, and gather these harvest
apples in eternity.
The Present Rewards of Service
- Of the husbandman it is said that he first shall eat of the fruit of
his labour. Here we have an intimation of the rewards of Christian life
that come before the final distribution. The soldier must wait until the
war is over; the contestant shall not be crowned until the games are
over; but the husbandman has continuous incomings of the fruits of his
labours all the time. He first partakes of the fruit of his labour. The
loaf on his table, the milk in his dairy, the fruit of his
storehouse—these are kept plenished and plentiful all the time. Then
comes harvest and autumn, with their laden garners and their orchard
spoil. So it is with the rewards of the Christian. Let him be as a
soldier brave, as contestant striving, as a husbandman diligent and
thrifty, and he shall have the reward of his labours even now—in grace
and favour, in strength and peace, in hope and heavenly mindedness, and
in the joy of doing good. Plenty to go on with, and a harvest to
follow—the fruits immortal, that await the plucking from the bending
branches of the trees of life! (J. J. Wray.)