The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive his share of the crops.
I. THE DUTY OF SUFFERING HARDSHIP IN THE GOSPEL. "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ."
1. The minister is a soldier of Christ, enrolled by him, trained by him, armed by him, supported by him, as the Captain of our salvation. The ministry is a warfare, involving, not only the "good fight of faith," but an increasing struggle against false teachers.
2. As a good soldier, he must be prepared to suffer hardships. Like the soldier, he must often leave home and friends, expose himself to cold and hunger and fatigue; he must fearlessly meet the enemies of his Lord, and die, if need be, in the arms of victory.
3. The apostle strengthens his admonition by an appeal to his own hardships and sufferings. Timothy took a sympathetic interest in the career of the greatest of the apostles. The tried veteran appeals to the young soldier.
II. ENCOURAGEMENTS TO BE DRAWN FROM THE DUTIES AND REWARDS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. There are three pictures presented to our view - one military, another agonistical, and another agricultural.
1. The supreme unembarrassed devotion of the soldier to his commander. "No one that serveth as a soldier entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who enrolled him to be a soldier." The Roman soldier was isolated by express law from all trades and interests and agencies that would interfere with the discipline of his profession.
(1) The minister who is supremely concerned about the affairs of the next life must stand free from the entanglements of human occupation, so as to devote his whole energies without distraction or dispersion of thought to the business of his Master. The apostle had himself occasionally to resort to industry for his own support, under circumstances of a purely exceptional nature; but he demands an extrication of the ministry from all secular engagements in his elaborate plea to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9.).
(2) His sole motive is to please the Master who enrolled him in this service. It is not to please himself, or to please men by seeking ease, or emolument, or social position, but to please the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose book of life his name is written.
2. The severe training and lawful striving of the athlete in the games. "But if any one also strive in the games, he is not crowned unless he have striven lawfully." The figure was a familiar one to the people of that age who dwelt in cities.
(1) It is implied that ministers, in striving for the crown of life, must strip off all encumbrances" laying aside every weight" - that they may the more easily press to the mark, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
(2) It implies that they must undergo the discipline of severe training to fit themselves for the work of ministry, and carry on their service according to the high laws of the kingdom of Christ.
3. The reward of the labouring husbandman. "The labouring husbandman must needs first partake of the fruits of his labour."
(1) This does not mean that the husbandman would be the first to partake of the fruits, but that he must first labour before he obtained the reward. There is evidently an emphasis on the fact that a laborious husbandman was the most fully entitled to reward.
(2) The minister of Christ must plough and sow before he can reap; he must use all laborious diligence in his calling, not discouraged because he does not at once see the fruits of his labour, for the seed may not sprout up quickly, but ever looking upward for the dews of Heaven's grace to descend upon the wide field of his ministry.
III. THE DUTY OF GIVING CONSIDERATION TO ALL THESE FACTS. "Consider what I say, and the Lord will give thee understanding in all things."
1. It is the Lord only who can give us a true insight into both doctrine and duty.
2. Those who enjoy this Divine help are under the greatest obligation to use their understandings upon the highest of all themes. - T.C.
The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
(A. Plummer, D. D.)1. He must prepare good seed — i.e., sound doctrine. For in this sense we may truly say: what a man soweth, he shall reap; such as thy seed is, such will be thy harvest.
2. Understand the nature of the soil, the spiritual estate of thy people, and let the seed be in degree and measure suitable. Seed that is hot and dry must be sown in a cold and moist ground; if cold and moist, in a land that is hot and dry, else no multiplication. He that preaches mercy to the wicked is like him who soweth wheat on dry sandy mountains; judgment to the righteous, rye in wet and watery valleys — neither of both will, can prosper.
3. Get skill in the manner of sowing.
4. When the seed is sown, weeds will grow up with it. These must be plucked up, kept under, else the corn will not prosper.
5. In any case, go not thou beyond thy bounds, but sow in that soil where God commands thee. That great seedsman, Paul, had ill success among the Jews, being chiefly sent to teach the Gentiles.
6. Cast not off thy calling; wax not weary in this husbandry; and to encourage thee, consider the excellency of thy function. The husbandman waiteth long; be thou also patient, for a time of gathering will come — shall come.
(J. Barlow, D. D.)1. No fruit without labour.
2. No labour without reward.
(Van Oosterzee.)1. He must cultivate the people, and sow the good seed.
2. He must not be discouraged if he does not reap fruit at once.
3. As the fruits of the ground sustain the husbandman, so should the people sustain the minister.
(W. Burkitt, M. A.)
New Cyclopaedia of Illustrations.A few years since, Motley shot up to the first position as an historian. Many wondered; but it was no wonder. He had wrought patiently for years in the libraries of the Old and New Worlds, unseen of men. The success of the great artist Dore was years of study in the hospitals, and practice in the studio behind it. This path to success is open to all.
(New Cyclopaedia of Illustrations.)
(J. Todd, D. D.)l: — They are utterly out that think to have the pleasure of sloth and the guerdon of goodness.
Homilist.Work is heaven's condition of prosperity and enjoyment in everything. A workless world would be a joyless world.
(J. J. Wray.)
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