What does farming have to do with faith? In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands us by His authority to go and make disciples of all nations and helping people to know and understand that we have a Lord and Savior. This is often referred to as The Great Commission. As a self-proclaimed Christian, I have no greater duty than that which is The Great Commission. As an analytical thinker, I like to make use of analogies (just as Jesus did with parables) to make sense of how The Great Commission applies to me. The agricultural farming process took shape in my mind as a guidepost for execution of The Great Commission.
The first step of farming is Crop Selection. This step involves a bit of financial planning, including market demand, budget, and pricing. Crop Selection takes a lot of research. The selection of finding a person in need of salvation requires research and wisdom. I believe God being omnipotent and omnipresent handles this part of The Great Commission through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is laid on our heart, through the Holy Spirit, by divine appointment to whom we should reach. For as long as we are listening to guidance from the Holy Spirit, we will be able to plan how to follow through with selection.
The second step to farming is Seed Planting. This step involves choosing the right plot of land with fertile soil, an understanding of planting depth, and the region where the crop will grow. Seed Planting requires an overabundance of enthusiasm and energy. I believe that God has gifted His people with the ability to plant the seeds of faith with an endless supply of the enthusiasm and energy. Seed Planting for the purposes of The Great Commission is not for every believer to tackle. I have a very close friend who is amazing at this call and while I admire her joy and openness to believer and unbelievers alike, I also recognize that in God’s infinite wisdom, I was not called to be a Seed Planter in faith. I tend to be a relatively even natured person (i.e. introverted), so trying to go out and face rejection and humiliation from an unbeliever scares me to my core. In the instance of my friend, the Seed Planter, she is the epitome of unbridled enthusiasm when she speaks of the gift of life from our Creator through our Savior. She invites anyone to church, or to worship, or to pray at any time in any place! She is passionate about leaving nuggets of The Truth with everyone she encounters. If you are encouraged by Romans 1:16 because you are not just unashamed of the gospel, but proud to present it to the world, then you may be just the Seed Planter (like my friend) that God is calling you to be when you do your part in The Great Commission.
The third step to farming is Watering/Nurturing the crop. This involves providing all the necessary elements for a plant to grow healthy and produce good fruit. Watering/Nurturing requires a great deal of patience and knowledge. I believe that God has also gifted His people with the ability to Water and Nurture with an endless supply of patience and wisdom through the work of the Holy Spirit within a believer. At this point the seed has been planted. I relate most to the call of Watering and Nurturing faith. I love to learn new things and I love sharing knowledge. It takes patience to understand where someone is in their walk in faith to know how much knowledge or wisdom a person needs when they have questions about faith. Just like a plant, it is important to proportion correctly. For instance, if a cactus has been planted, it has a unique purpose according to God. It also makes gorgeous flowers. However, a cactus does not need much water and it retains things well. A cactus thrives in a minimal environment. A new believer, like a cactus, does not require torrential amounts of water or information. Providing an overabundance of information can drown the believer that takes time to absorb what is going on around them. Conversely, Crinum lilies are heat and moisture loving plants, producing an abundant array of showy flowers in summer. Without a healthy dose of water on a consistent basis, the plant never really grows and dies quickly without water. When a new believer is thirsty for knowledge, a believer that is good at Watering and Nurturing another person’s faith will excel at providing the abundant amount of information in any life situation for the new believer to grow in the works of the Gospel message. The Waterer/Nurturer has one thing in common with the Seed Planter; they toil over bringing unbelievers to Christ while they do not always get to see the harvest of the mature Christian here on Earth. As Christians we are taught to be okay without earthly reward in Matthew 6:3. This verse tells a Christian not to let the left hand know what the right hand is doing when being charitable in any way to further The Great Commission among other things.
The final step in the farming process before sending the crop to market is harvesting. Harvesting a plant takes discernment in knowing a healthy useful plant from an invasive weed and separating them from each other at the culmination of a growing season. The Russian Wheat Aphid and the Hessian Fly, and Pigweed are all invasive to a wheat crop. A heavy infestation of these bugs or weeds can kill a crop altogether. In the realm of faith, these are the sins that surround and infest a believer’s heart. Biblically we are told that the wages of sin are death in Romans 6:23. There is no way to escape the infestation of sin on our own. This is provided by the death of God’s only son, Jesus Christ. What does this have to do with being a Harvester of faith? Well, it means that a Harvester of Faith here on Earth must have the greatest level of discernment to align believers in their walk of faith as closely as they can to make sure a person is plucked when ripe in faith. A harvester has the difficult task of watching the weeds (sin) grow along with the wheat. Pulling the weeds seems like a logical solution to the problem for a Seed Planter or a Waterer/Nurturer, but the Harvester knows he must let the sin grow along with the believer because the Harvester also knows that the believer can overcome the sin through salvation. A Harvester must bring a believer back to Christ when they have tangled with sin. A Harvester is honest, without judgment, when a believer has engaged in sin that does not lead them on the path God created them to follow. Unlike the Seed Planter and the Water/Nurturer, the Harvester is typically surrounded by spiritual maturity. Therefore a Harvester has no place trying to pluck fresh planted seeds of faith before they have had a chance to be nurtured and grow into spiritual maturity.
Each part of the farming and spiritual growth process is intricate and important. When the process is out of order or a person called for one duty of The Great Commission crosses into the duty that they are not called to do; it can turn a new son or daughter of Christ away from their walk in faith. So, how do you know if you are a Seed Planter, a Waterer/Nurturer, or a Harvester? Look at your personal walk in faith and think about the gifts God has given you to carry out The Great Commission. Do you find yourself gushing about how great Salvation is? Then perhaps you are a Seed Planter. Do you like to research, study, and share information that you have learned about faith? Then you may be a Waterer/Nurturer. Are you able to have mature conversation about the Christian walk while you are still in flesh form and full of sin? Then perhaps you are a harvester.
There is no right or wrong answer to growing in faith. Sometimes it is a matter of taking a few steps forward in faith, and sometimes it is sitting in a season of grief and doubt. The important thing to remember is that through Salvation, God our Father, loves you despite any shortcomings you believe you have. Remember that God knitted you in your mother’s womb. He has plans for you. When you know what that is, use it to carry out The Great Commission.