“See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.” (James 5:7)
Fall is harvest time, when farmers are able to see the fruit of the hard work they began last Spring. They are God’s care-takers who prepare their fields, plant the seeds, and then cultivate the plants. But even when all this is done, they must do something that sometimes proves in even more difficult: they must wait upon the Lord! Even with all their hard work, they must trust in the Lord’s blessings of sunshine, rain, and seasonable weather so that their might be a bountiful harvest to gather.
As we walk into our local grocery store, I wonder if we pause to realize all that has happened just so we might eat a single piece of fruit. Certainly farmers realize this. They know that no matter how hard they work, without the Lord’s blessings there would be no harvest. After doing all they can, God’s care-takers must wait upon the Lord who “opens his hand and satisfies the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16)
As suburbanites, I think we can learn these valuable rural lessons from the farmer:
Lesson #1 Learn trust!
Farmers experience both good and bad harvests, but through it all, they have learned what it means to trust in the Lord’s provision. When times are good, we tend to think we don’t really need God. We earn much and spend even more and feel rather self-sufficient. When things are difficult, however, we are reminded that God is the One who provides us with our daily bread. Certainly we must work hard to prepare, plant and cultivate our own professional fields, but unless the Lord blesses our work, we merely labor in vain. NOTE: a fruitful life begins in a trusting relationship with our loving Lord.
Lesson #2 Learn thanks!
Our tradition of Thanksgiving comes from our forefathers who gave thanks to God for the harvest. Those early years in the New World were difficult ones for the pilgrims, and their year-end provisions were rather meager compared to today’s standards. Even so, they paused to give thanks to the Lord of the harvest for what they did have. Perhaps this image of the first thanksgiving is more important than ever for us to remember as we gather around our dinner tables on the 22nd. Thankful people choose to celebrate what God has given instead of constantly pining for what they don’t have. NOTE: thankfulness follows trust. If you lack contentment in your life, repeat Lesson #1.
Lesson #3 Learn tithe!
The biblical principle of tithing flowed from farmers who gave to the Lord 10% of their first-fruits. If God is the giver of every good gift we possess, then the best way to thank Him is to offer a portion of what we have. The idea of percentage giving is a brilliant concept. During difficult economic times, our tithe will be smaller (it’s simple math!). When we experience a bountiful harvest, our 10% will be even larger than we first anticipated because we have so much more to give!
The first-fruits we give weekly in the offering plate is indeed the best way to honor God for His gifts. Those who give God a percentage of their wealth know that they are participating in a much more important planting. Their offerings support the sowing of the seeds of God’s Word. And as we see God’s provision in our own lives, so too we expect our tithes will produce a spiritual harvest: the cultivation of faith in a world which lays fallow and dead. NOTE: Tithing flows from a thankful heart that trusts in the Lord. If you are not experiencing the joy of growing God’s kingdom through percentage giving, repeat Lessons #1 & #2.
So learn from the farmer, and experience a truly abundant life!