Farmer – Connor Ratcliff
“It is the hard working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops”
2 Timothy 2:6
When we look at 2 Timothy 2:6, we can all agree Paul has charged us to work hard like a farmer. The only problem for me when I read this is that I am from the city so I don’t know a whole lot about farming. What I can imagine is how hard it would be to sit and look at dirt for most of your crop season, only to be surprised by the fruit of your labor in the last days. So, up close this verse seems pretty simple, but if we look at this verse a bit longer, we begin to ask other questions like what is our purpose in working hard or why is this so important to Paul? It also makes me wonder if there is a difference between what the world tells us about work, compared to what God’s Word tells us.
If you read Ephesians 2:8-10, you see a bit of insight into what Paul believes about our works and what they obtain.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
The world’s most popular answer for why we need to work hard is so that we might obtain something that would benefit us. This is different from the truth within Ephesians 2:8-10. Salvation is the absolute best thing we can ever obtain from God, period. Therefore it is pretty humbling to read this truth and notice our works would never be able to obtain it. We are fully dependent upon God’s grace and Paul wants us to understand that.
With the best gift we could ever obtain from God, which is freely given to us by his grace and impossible to earn by hard works, I ask you the question again what is our purpose? 1 Corinthians 9:24 is a perfect example of our purpose in working hard.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
We are all runners in this race chasing after the prize, but if salvation is not our prize what is? The prize that we are chasing after is for our lost family members, friends, co-workers, and fellow students to know a deep understanding of Ephesians 2:8-10 and to believe in Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross for us. Before I continue unpacking this truth about this being our prize, I need to tell you a bit about my past. I was a big runner when I was in high school, so this verse means a lot to me. I was never the most talented nor was I the most naturally gifted, but I did have one thing others did not when I showed up at the starting line. I had confidence. Unfortunately, this confidence did not come naturally. I had to work hard to obtain it. I would run before school, after school, then drive across town to work out again with another trainer. After completing this pattern in the off-season over and over again, I was able to show up on race day and look at all my competitors and be confident. I knew I wasn’t the fastest guy on the track, but I was confident because I knew I wanted it more and had put in the long hours of work to obtain the prize we were all working for. I had a certain type of swagger and was no longer intimidated by the other runners. When we started the race, I was able to compete because of my work and I knew it.
This same idea applies to our spiritual walk. Paul is urging us to work hard, to put in the hours, to push through all the growing pains, so when we show up to the starting line we can look at our opponents and have that same swagger we discussed earlier. Paul’s desire is for us to look at the lies the enemy is going to tell us, the insecurities the enemy wants to bring up, and the joy the enemy so desperately wants to take from us and say we will not be affected by it because we have worked hard for the confidence we have. Paul wants us to run in such a way that we might obtain the prize so lets put in the work to reach that goal. Let’s dig into scripture, let’s work on placing that scripture on our hearts by memory, and lets understand that our confidence comes from nowhere but Him. He is the source of our confidence. Let’s be hard working farmers and put in the work so that we might run the race well.