The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
— 2 Timothy 2:6
When Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him to bravely face his battles, he first told Timothy to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Then Paul changed his illustration and exhorted Timothy to develop the mentality of a professional athlete. But suddenly the athletic talk stops, and Paul begins to instruct the younger minister to start thinking like a farmer! Second Timothy 2:6 says, “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.”
Paul’s abrupt changes in his illustrations must have left Timothy’s mind whirling! Paul had already told him to endure and fight like a soldier, then to prepare and train like an athlete. But now he tells Timothy to work hard like a farmer!
It’s almost as if Paul says, “Timothy, you need to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Or let me give you another example: You need to train and prepare with the same determination and commitment an athlete possesses. Or here’s another illustration to help you understand: You need to be hard-working like a farmer. I KNOW! You need to be all three of these things! You must fight like a soldier, prepare and compete like an athlete, and work like a farmer! You must begin to view yourself as all three — a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer!”
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When Paul writes Second Timothy 2:6, he uses words that convey images of farming life. For instance, the word “husbandman” is the Greek word georgos, the word for a farmer who tills the soil. Because Paul uses the word georgos (“husbandman”), there is no doubt that he has the varied activities of a farmer in his mind as he writes to Timothy.
As Paul begins to convey this idea to Timothy, he starts by talking about the hard work of a farmer. He says, “The husbandman that laboureth.…” The word “laboureth” is the Greek word kopos, which always denotes the hardest, toughest kind of work. This presents the idea of a person who works to the end of his strength or to the point of physical exhaustion.This farmer is an individual who is giving every ounce of his strength to finish the task before him. Although he is weary, he keeps plodding on step after step, refusing to give up. Rejecting the temptation to throw in the towel, he keeps plowing the ground before him because the task must be done by someone.
The picture this word kopos suggests is of a farmer who labors in the heat of the afternoon sun during the hottest season of the year with sweat pouring down his face. Although the ground is like hard, dry clay and the work is strenuous, the farmer just keeps on plowing and sowing, plowing and sowing. After he finishes plowing one row of his garden, he turns at the end of the row and starts all over again on the next row. By the end of the day, the farmer is physically exhausted, mentally drained, drenched with perspiration, and covered with dirt. He has done a hard day’s work!
By using this illustration, Paul tells us to face the facts: If you’re going to reap a harvest, you have to get out in the field and do the job! If you will do your job faithfully like a hard-working farmer who wants to reap the benefits of a large crop, you will also reap an abundant crop of success and blessing.
Now we get to the rewarding part! The apostle Paul says, “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” This is God’s personal promise to anyone who puts his hand to the plow and works hard — and it is His special promise to you!
Paul says that if you are faithful to work in His Kingdom, you “…must be first partaker of the fruits.” The words “must be” in Greek is the word dei. It is always used to convey the idea of a necessity, an obligation, a requirement, a demand, or a rule to which there is absolutely no exception and that can never be broken. You could interpret the verse, “The husbandman that laboureth absolutely must be…” or “The husbandman that laboureth is obligated and under command.…”
Paul tells what “must be” when he says, “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” In other words, God wants the committed, determined, hard-working believer to eat from the table of victory and to enjoy the sweet fruit of success before anyone else does!
When we look at the entire text of Second Timothy 2:3-6, we understand that God is telling us:
“If you will fight like a soldier; if you will prepare and compete like an athlete; and if you will put your heart and soul into working in your field the way a hard-working farmer does — here is what I will do for you. I am establishing a permanent rule — one that can never be changed, altered, or modified — and I am making it a top priority and a necessity that when your battle is over and you’ve proven yourself to be a good soldier; when your spiritual opponents are defeated and you’ve won your competition; when you’ve plowed your fields and your crops begin to grow and mature before your eyes — you WILL eat before anyone else eats!”
You see, God wants you to eat and enjoy the fruit of your labors, just as a hard-working farmer does after giving his life to see his crops grow in his field. Your part is to work your land and labor strenuously to see your dream come to pass; then God promises that you will eventually eat the fruit of your hard work! As you focus on doing your job well, you can expect to be blessed, recognized, rewarded, and remunerated for your efforts, for God says that anyone who works hard and sticks with his project to the end deserves to eat the fruit!
Warriors deserve rewards. Good athletes earn recognition. Farmers have every right to eat their crops. And if you are living and fighting by faith to see a certain victory in your life, you can claim God’s promise that a day is coming when you will eat the sweet fruit of victory!
This message must have been very encouraging for Timothy. At that moment, he was so immersed in the conflicts that swirled around him that his mind must have easily become swamped with fears and concerns about what was happening to his congregation. But Paul’s encouraging message to Timothy is the same message God has for you today.
God is telling you, “If you will endure hardship as a good soldier; train and compete like a good athlete; plow your ground and work hard in the field where I have called you, no matter how hard or difficult it is — then I promise you that a day will come when things turn around. And on that day, you will be richly rewarded!”
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I am so blessed to know that You want me to eat the sweet fruit of victory. That knowledge makes me want to work my ground even harder to produce a great harvest for Your Kingdom. I know that in my own flesh, I will never be able to fulfill the dream You’ve given me. But by Your Spirit, I can do all things! So I ask You to fill me with so much strength and motivation that I’ll never stop until I finally reap the harvest of my dreams!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I will never stop until I see the harvest of my dream. It’s going to take hard work and some time, but I am going to keep plowing and cultivating my ground until I see my crops mature. A day is coming in my future when I will pull up to the table, take out my knife and fork, and dive into the sweet victory for which I’ve worked so hard!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. What is the dream crop you’ve been working for and waiting to reap in your life?
2. Are there changes you need to make in your work style if you are going to achieve the great, super-abundant dreams God has put in your heart? If so, what are the changes you need to make to become a super-achiever?
3. Can you name five crops you’ve already reaped in life due to your hard work, consistency, and faithfulness?