Thursday, 22 March 2018
The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 2 Timothy 2:6
Paul now goes to another metaphor to describe the responsibilities and benefits of being a minister of the Lord. He began with the soldier, he then moved to the athlete, and now he speaks of the farmer by saying, “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.”
Speaking of the soldier, he relayed the concept of obedience by ministers to Christ, and not mixing in the affairs of the world. In his words about the athlete, he conveyed the message that the minister of the Lord was to conduct his affairs according to the set rules, implying the word of God. Now, in these words about farmers, he is showing that there are other requirements, and also benefits, of the ministerial office.
When a farmer works his land, he takes what is necessary for himself before selling off his produce to others. He takes enough for food for himself and his family. He takes enough to feed his animals. He also sets aside enough to be used for planting future crops. All of this happens before he sells his first bushel to others. It is a laborious, time-consuming process. It takes great exertion of energy and dedication in order to come to this state. If he has not cared for his own house first, then he will fail as a farmer in the future. The same is then true with the minister.
In this lesson, there is both a spiritual and a physical aspect to be understood. First, from a spiritual aspect, the minister must feed himself with the word. There must be a dedicated effort of growing in the word, cultivating it, and caring for it. Any minister who has not put his effort into the spiritual growth of his harvest will be a pretty horrible minister. Further, he must ensure that his family is set in the word as well, living in accordance with its precepts. And he must store up his knowledge of the word for the future. He must always be ready to apply it to his life and actions.
Secondly, the minister must tend to his needs in a physical sense as well. He must sow into his crop, tend to it, harvest it, and store up what is needed. Some pastors are known for giving of themselves to the point of having nothing left to give. Paul would call this unwise. There must be a store from which one can be willing to give, and it must be accessed with wisdom and prudence. If it is depleted, then it is he who will then be the soul needing other’s help. If it doesn’t come, then there will be no ministry at all.
Paul speaks of this elsewhere of this general precept in 1 Corinthians 9 –
For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? 1 Corinthians 9:9-12
Life application: The minister’s job is one which must be cultivated through hard work, and it is also a job which requires the minister to be wise and careful in how he deals with both his physical and spiritual gain. To allow either to fall into shortage will cause him to be less effective in his ministerial duties. There must be a storehouse which will be accessible for the future to meet the obvious needs which will arise in his own life, in that of his family, and also in the ministry.
Lord God, Your word tells us to save for our children’s children, while at the same time we are instructed to help meet the needs of others as they arise. Help us to be cautious and careful to do the former, and yet to not let the latter fall by the wayside. Give us wisdom in helping out in needs that are truly needs as we are able to do so. Thank You for being with us as we proceed. Amen.