As Paul concludes his paragraph on the topic of suffering and endurance, in this mentoring manual, he presses home his argument with one more illustration. He has used the military and athletic worlds to illustrate truth, now he turns his focus to that of a hardworking farmer.
“The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.” (2 Timothy 2:6)
Farming tracks with the seasons for the year. Different types of farming demand different cycles of work. Harvesttime is a time of great joy as the crops reach maturity and are brought in from the fields. Some crops are hand-picked, others may employ mechanization.
Paul had witnessed a multitude of crops being harvested throughout his travels in the Roman Empire. Like the narrative from the book of Ruth, he had seen his share of gleaners carefully reaping barley and wheat while leaving the edges of the fields for the poor. Perhaps he was drawing Timothy’s attention to those who harvested olives, figs or fruit which grew in abundance.
Whatever the illustration, Timothy was called to imitate the hard work of the diligent. Ministry is no place for laziness and those who fail to sow in season have nothing to reap. I’ve been privileged many times to reap where others have sown and I’m sure others have harvested the crop from seeds I planted in the fields where God has privileged me to work.
Where has God called you to work? I can’t remember the last time I sang, “To the work, to the work,…” but the exhortation of that old hymn still demands our attention. As the chorus reminds us, God’s servants are to be those who are “Toiling on, Toiling on, Toiling on, Toiling on, Let us hope, Let us watch, And labour ’til the Master comes…”