Lessons from the Farmer


We are living in anticipation of the Lord’s return. Jesus promised His apostles, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). We are looking forward to that same hope. All the faithful – living and dead – will “meet the Lord in the air” when He returns and then “we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is a comforting thought for the Christian (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Peter spoke of the certainty of this event, but explained that the timing of it was unknown: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). We can be assured that this day is coming, but we do not know when it will be.

Since this is the reality of our existence here on the earth, James encouraged us to be patient. In doing so, he cited the example of a farmer to make his point:

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (James 4:7-8).

Patience is important, but it is only part of what was necessary for the farmer to make a living.

  1. The farmer needs diligence. After Adam was expelled from the Garden, God said to him, “By the sweat of your face you will eat bread” (Genesis 3:19). The wise man warned, “The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing” (Proverbs 20:4). One who works the land needs to work morning and evening because of the uncertain nature of this life (Ecclesiastes 11:6).
  2. The farmer needs patience. The time for planting and harvesting are two different seasons. The work that is done in planting must be followed by patience. The wise man gave the assurance, “He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty” (Proverbs 28:19). Generally speaking, there is a reward for one’s labor (cf. Proverbs 14:23); but it is not realized immediately.
  3. The farmer needs God’s blessings. The “fruitful seasons” we enjoy are a “witness” to God and His goodness that He shows to mankind (Acts 14:17). He promised that these seasons would continue as long as the earth remains (Genesis 8:22). Everything good that we enjoy in this life is from Him (James 1:17).

After citing the example of the farmer, James said, “You too…” (James 4:8). Those things that are necessary for the farmer to make a living are the same things necessary for us to receive eternal life when the Lord returns.

  1. We need diligence. The Hebrew writer spoke of the need for us to have “diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end” (Hebrews 6:12). He said in the chapter before that Jesus is “to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). James had already discussed this in his letter before citing the example of the farmer. He said we must be “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22) and that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Paul told the Ephesians that we have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). We need to be actively engaged in the Lord’s service and doing the work He has instructed us to do.
  2. We need patience. Paul knew that to “depart and be with Christ [was] very much better” than remaining on in this life (Philippians 1:23). When John concluded the book of Revelation, he expressed his desire for the Lord to return: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Because “our citizenship is in heaven…we eagerly wait for a Savior” (Philippians 3:20). Yet we must be patient. “With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8). While this day could come at any time, it may not be as soon as we would hope. We need to be patient no matter how much time there is between now and when the Lord returns.
  3. We need God’s blessings. While diligence is necessary (first point) because the Lord will save “those who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9), that does not mean we will somehow earn our salvation. Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The hope of salvation and eternal life is a gift of God. We are saved by grace (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9). If we want to talk about what we earn, that would be punishment for the sins we have committed. Yet God has made His grace available to all (Titus 2:11). Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). If we will faithfully follow Him, we can have the hope of salvation.

Through diligent service, patiently waiting for the Lord, and the grace of God, we can have eternal life. James described the coming of Christ as “near” (James 4:8), signifying the fact that this day would come quickly and could arrive at any time (cf. Matthew 24:36, 42). Therefore, let us always be ready for the Lord’s return, whenever that day might be.

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