2 Timothy 2:6
Paul brings up a farmer as one of three illustrations of a faithful minister of the gospel. The other two (soldier and athlete) sound more exciting. Although it's not Paul's intent, the truth is that a farmer leads quite an exciting life. He 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. Not for farmers. They place a seed in the ground and return to harvest the results, but the time between those two actions can be considerable. Successful farmers know how to wait. They 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 (see Matthew 13). Paul discussed the parallels between farming and the development of believers (see 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. 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 nothardworking 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're farmers, we remember we're in the field every day. Every moment becomes a new opportunity to persistently plant followed by patient waiting to see what God will do.