There seems to be something about farming that is special. It is normally not the most lucrative occupation, and many times farmers today lose money farming. Most farmers work a ‘city’ job so they can continue to afford to farm. So why do they keep farming? Well, I believe the main reason is because they enjoy it.
I enjoy farming. I know that I would farm for free if my bills could still be met. There is something about being able to be outside, working in the dirt, watching things grow, feeding the animals, and harvesting the fruits of your labor that seems to fill an inward desire to steward the land.
When I rise early in the morning the waking dawn is just breathtaking. Doing the chores is satisfying as well as great exercise. Basically what I get to do is go around and make the animals happy. Give them feed, fill their water, move their shelters, etc., and when they are happy, my job is done. My daily work on the farm is never the same and changes with the seasons. There are somewhat hard jobs, like processing chickens, setting out thousands of transplants, or working in the heat of the summer. But they don’t last forever and I can finish and move on to something else. There is always something to look forward to. Looking forward to planting the first seeds in spring. Looking forward to harvesting the first crops of summer. Looking forward to the cooler weather of fall. Looking forward to the rest and projects of winter. And the majority of the time I am at home and get to eat every meal with my family, as well as work with them. Almost every day I find myself falling more in love with farming.
But I have begun to realize that merely farming because I enjoy it isn’t necessarily a proper primary motive for me as a Christian. And it’s not a very reliable one either. Because at times there are definitely things I don’t enjoy about farming. Like doing the chores in the rain and mud. Or finding chickens that have been killed by predators . As a Christian, my life is not all about farming. It’s all about Christ. It’s about doing what pleases the Lord who created me, loves me, and saved me. This means that my farming needs to be motivated out of a love for God, not just a love for farming.
Though there are many aspects to God’s commands, we are told that they are all summed up by one thing. Love. Love for God, and love for your neighbor. If our farms are to bring glory to God they must be motivated first and foremost by a love for God and man.
Love is such a misunderstood term today that I probably need to take a moment to give a biblical definition of love. Love is not the mushy gushy, fickle, emotional feeling that American culture tells us. Rather, God is love. Through the ultimate display of love of all time, Jesus showed us that love is an act of the will, accompanied by emotion, that produces action on behalf of its object, even at great personal cost. “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” It is this type of love that must motivate our farms.
Most Born Again farmers would probably agree that love should be the motive for farming, but how many of us actually farm as if that were the case? How many Christians go into farming today because of a desire to love God and others? On other hand, how many Christians never go into farming because there are easier and better paying jobs? What does that say about our motives? Of course we all claim that it’s not about the money and that there is nothing wrong with work. But then we go and evaluate something like farming primarily based on how much money we could make rather than on how it enables us to be in a position to serve God and others. We need to repent of claiming to have God’s values, then turning around and applying the World’s values.
If farming is to be motivated by love, does the Bible explain any further what that means? In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul is writing to urge the brothers to live in order to please God. He then tells them to avoid sexual immorality and encourages them in their love for one another. He then sums up by giving what I consider an application of what love should look like in our lives.
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet live, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thess. 4:11,12)
There are four major applications I believe this verse calls us to.
1.-Godly lifestyle: To promote and support, restful, God-focused living.
2.-Stewardship: To work and care for creation.
3.-Testimony: To display the work of the Gospel.
4.-Provision: To provide for the needs of people.
Lord willing, I will talk more about these applications in later posts.
Let’s consider today, “Why do I farm?” Is it primarily from a self-centered motive or a Christ-centered motive? I find both motives in my own heart daily. May the Lord enable us to continually redeem our dirt by removing our selfishness and replacing it with Christ.