Listen to this devotional:
2 Timothy 2:6 – The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. (NIV)
For the first nine years of my work in ministry, I pastored a beautiful area in the southwest of Scotland. The countryside was stunning, and as I travelled throughout the area in my car, I often saw the farmers working in their fields. Their lives fascinated me, and I was in awe of their work ethic. They do get up before light of day and work long, arduous hours.
Their families are all involved in working the farm. The children are taught responsibility at an early age and are given their own areas of the farm to look after. It was a joy to be amongst them. I sometimes miss visiting with them in their farmhouses, listening to their talk about livestock, crops, and machinery.
It's no surprise to me that the Christian faith has much to say about farms and farmers, crops and harvests. Our faith grew out of agricultural religious cycles, and many of our celebrations and feasts are long associated with the farming year. In Scotland, we used to celebrate communion twice a year — in April and October. We did this after the lambing season had finished in March, and once the harvest was brought in during the fall. It gave the farmers a special time to be with God, commune with His Son and people, and give thanks for the blessing of the lambs and the finishing of the harvest.
In many ways, our churches are also like farms. We plant the seeds of belief in the hearts of our children in the hope that those seeds will become fruits of faith. We are also given ministries and missions to tend, so that Christ's work amongst us can grow and expand in our community. And we are each expected to bring a faithful harvest to God at the end of our lives, showing Him that we have shared our faith with others, and planted new seeds of belief in the hearts and minds of those we leave behind. We are each meant to be hardworking farmers of faith, so that we might expect the bounty of God's blessings and receive an eternal share in Christ's kingdom.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the work of our farmers and for the food they provide to our people. Bless them at this special time when their harvests are gathered and their work is done. Be with them as they plan ahead for next year's crops and livestock. May they be respected and appreciated for all that they accomplish amongst us. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.