Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Fruits of Labor

Do you have a garden? Have you ever planted flowers, herbs, vegetables? Maybe some tomatoes or cucumbers. Why? When you really think about it. By the time you add up the cost of the seed, water, fertilizer, fencing to keep the critters out, not to mention your time, it is more than likely more expensive than buying vegetables at the supermarket. That’s not why you do it, though, is it? There are few things more satisfying than seeing the fruit of your labor. You grew that, and you can eat it. A salad never tasted so good than when it was made with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, carrots, and celery that you grew yourself! That is what makes gardening so fulfilling.  

Around AD 50, seventeen years after Jesus ascended to heaven, the apostle Paul arrives in Athens. Paul had left Silas and Timothy in Berea (a city in northern Greece) with instructions to join him as soon as possible. When Timothy returns to Athens, Paul then sends him fifty miles east to the city of Thessalonica in order to encourage the church that was being persecuted for its newfound faith. 

Timothy comes back with a mostly good report about the Thessalonian church, prompting Paul to send a letter to them. In 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul writes, “…we have been greatly encouraged in the midst of our troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives us new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:7-8).

Paul was encouraged, happy, that what he had shared with believers had taken root. It is always gratifying to hear that someone has listened to your advice and counsel, isn’t it? Anyone with children will know we are not always listened to. Of course, we need to remember, we cannot expect a harvest if we do no planting. Paul also wrote, “Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop” (2 Corinthians 9:6). Share the gospel story with your children. Tell them who Jesus is and what He did for them. Share God’s Word, His standards, His truth with them. You plant the seeds. The Holy Spirit will feed and water them, and you will get to see the fruit. 

Hey, if we are honest, we will admit, when we were younger, we did not always follow our parent’s advice and counsel either, did we? For whatever reason, when we are young, we think we have all the answers. The truth is, for some, when they get older, not much changes. The Bible says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Nonetheless, it seems regardless of what God has to say in His Word, too often people believe they know what is good or bad, moral or immoral, right or wrong.

Don’t you love it when you discover that your son or daughter listened to you? Yeah, maybe you had to hear it through the grapevine. Surely, they would never admit to your face you were right. Come on, did you? It’s okay. I’ll bet, however you heard it, when you did, like Paul, you smiled. Feels good, doesn’t it? Well, our Father in heaven enjoys when His children listen too.

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