Farming, when boiled down to its elements, appears simple. Plant seeds in ground. Plant grows produce. Farmer harvests produce as product. It’s an oversimplification, but it covers the basic idea. The only difference with livestock is that you start with a small animal and feed it until it becomes a big animal.
The ultimate goal of farming is the harvest. Every product raised will be collected, processed and eaten in one way or another. That is why when you talk to farmers they’ll often proudly tell you about their yields. “You’d be amazed!” Farmer Jones declares, “I harvested an average of 170 bushels of corn per acre this year.” Though to most people this means nothing, to the farmer it means everything. The amount produced is considered the measure of not only the farms quality, but the farmers skill.
Within the many agricultural metaphors in the world, there is the comparison of our productivity to fruits and produce. Several times in the Bible, Jesus instructed his disciples to judge people based on their fruits.
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.”
-Luke 6:43-44 ESV
Based on this metaphor, we can say everyone is a farmer in their own way. Our actions plant seeds. The seeds grow and bear fruit. We harvest that fruit. It’s a situation summed by the worthy maxim “we reap what we sow.”
We can easily say that a farm is judged based on quantity grown, and some judge based on that. To truly test a farm and the farmer, you need judge the quality. Farm A may have grown hundreds of pounds in lettuce, tomatoes, and corn, but it might not taste great. Farm B is smaller and may have grown less, but their tomatoes are succulent, the lettuce perfect, and the corn incredible.
A person may live a good life and appear to have good fruit because of it, but that doesn’t always mean much. Quantity, the amount of money someone has in the bank or cars in the garage doesn’t mean a whole lot. Quality produce is tested by a knife to cut into the fruit and determine if it’s rotten or not. Likewise, our lives are tested by difficulty. It is easy to appear good when things are well, but its hard to maintain such an act under duress. When troubles arises, can our fruit bear the scrutiny?
With the rise of the Non-GMO Project, many products that contain corn and soybeans are now regularly tested. Samplings are taken of the loads and tested to see if it’s GMO levels are within the proper limits. To test these grains they need to be ground into powder. So it is with our lives and fruits. Difficulty grinds, cuts, and tests to see if we have proven character, to determine if we can still do what is right even if we don’t feel like it.
Every farm and every life should strive to produce good fruit. To accomplish this requires effort, attention, and proper fertilizer. If we do this faithfully, we can hope to reap a good harvest in due season.