When our oldest daughter was just learning to talk, and something tasted awesome, she would say it was “Tasty-good!!” This earned more than a few smiles around dinner tables and snack plates alike. This phrase came to mind recently, as I was reading 2 Timothy 2:6. It’s a verse that upon first reading, doesn’t sound like something a follower of Jesus would say:
“The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.“
But wait, wasn’t Jesus all about giving to the poor? About all of the workers getting paid the same, no matter how long/hard they labored? What could Paul be saying to Timothy here?
For that, I’ll tell a quick story from last weekend. My wife was attending “Hearts at Home” here in Illinois, and I felt like it was my job to make this time with my kids more than just “surviving until mom gets home”. I wanted them to love it, and to know daddy wanted special time with his girls. Some parts went awesome, other parts not so much. But one thing in particular was my attempt to make “Beignets” like our girls saw in “The Princess and the Frog”. Because we’re recently gluten-free, I found a gluten-free recipe to try out. How hard could it be, right? So Friday night after the kids were in bed, I worked at making the dough. I harnessed the power of my OCD to use for good, and followed the directions 100%. The dough was nowhere near usable. The recipe called for the end result of a “ball of dough” to refrigerate over night. I ended up with what looked like pancake batter. Being the Martha Stewart that I am, I simply kept adding general purpose gluten-free flour until it was ball-able (if that’s a word).
In the morning, I rolled it out, cut it, gave it a chance to rise (even though it never chose to wake up apparently), and fried them up. The result? Flat square donuts. Thankfully they tasted awesome, and the girls still danced around – pleased to be eating actual beignets like Tiana.
Now, if someone had walked in that morning to sit down and eat square donuts with us, they would’ve enjoyed the food. They were pretty tasty, as any fried dough with powdered sugar would be. But you know who was the chief enjoyer of the fruit of all that labor?? Me. I’d put in the time, care, work, and patiently crafting a meal out of love for my girls. No one could have enjoyed that moment more than me…tasting the food, seeing my girls devour them, etc.
Paul is telling Timothy here – those who endure to the end, and do the sacrificial work it takes to plant seeds for the Kingdom – and care for the growth of Kingdom living – THEY are the ones who will most enjoy the fruits of their labor. They’ll be first in line for the celebration of a harvest they’ve been living towards with every breath. He is urging a young man he cares for deeply to keep up the work he’s doing, because not only will it be worth it…but it will make every bit of the fruit so much more fulfilling – knowing that somehow we were joining God in bringing all of this around!!!!