“Ye Are God’s Husbandry”
—I Corinthians 3:9

THE term husbandry describes the ancient occupation of farming, involving the careful cultivation and production of crops or animals. It implies the attentive use and thrifty management of land and other natural resources—water, terrain, weather, and tasks such as pruning, tilling—to successfully bring forth the very necessary products of agriculture. Fields, pastures, vineyards, and orchards are the workshops where the sciences and management-techniques of husbandry are applied. The thought illustrated by our text and applied to us, “Ye are God’s husbandry,” indicates that the Christian life is a growing process, and that God as our husbandman does not withhold any of his vast, limitless resources for the development of his new creation.

Although God is spoken of as the husbandman, it is first through Jesus and our faith in him as our Redeemer that the cultivation or tillage which the Lord desires to accomplish is begun. As we are drawn to Jesus through an understanding of God’s plan for mankind disclosed to us through the Scriptures, we learn that we actually are invited to share a part in his plan: “The hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the Word of the truth of the Gospel, which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth.” (Col. 1:5,6) Those who are seeking, searching, and earnestly desirous to do his will find a means by which they can be satisfied. God provides this means by drawing the zealous searcher to his son, Jesus. “No man cometh unto me except the Father which hath sent me, draw him.”—John 6:44

Jehovah works in our lives, calling and developing his church, as a farmer tills or cultivates his fields, and thus we are prepared to bear the fruitage of his labors. In the parable of the sower, we are told that “he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matt. 13:23) The seed sown by the husbandman is the truth; the ground which receives this seed is our hearts; the fruitage is the graces of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”—Gal. 5:22,23

It is up to the individual how great the yield in his life will be. God provides all that is necessary for a bountiful crop. Some fruitage is absolutely necessary to be pleasing to God, but those who bring forth a hundredfold afford the husbandman great joy. “I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” The more abundant the yield, the more pleased is the husbandman, for his work is not in vain.

Our Lord’s parable not only informs us that God will do the cultivating, but it also tells us something about the manner in which that work will be carried out: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:1,2) Our Heavenly Father, as the husbandman, nurtures all who are represented as being branches in the vine. He prunes, shapes, waters, nourishes and protects, desiring the development of growth into conformity with the vine. Every experience of the spirit-begotten one is especially designed to help him grow into the likeness of the “mind which was in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 2:5

As all branches in a vine bear the same fruit, so it is that if we wish to remain in the true vine, we must grow the same lovely fruit as Jesus did. “Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, … and by their fruits shall ye know them.” (Matt. 7:17,20) If we do not bear fruit, the husbandman will remove us from the vine; if we bear fruit, we will be pruned in order to bring forth more goodly fruitage.

It was said of Jesus, “Though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” (Heb. 5:8) He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” yet he received difficult pruning and cultivating experiences during his lifetime here on earth. (See Hebrews 7:26; Matthew 26:46 to Matthew 27:51; John 11:53,54; John 11:35; Matthew 23:37; Luke 9:58.) So it will be for the church, the branches in his vine: these pruning processes of husbandry by God on our behalf require that we “suffer with him, that we may be glorified together.” (Rom. 8:17) We are told that “the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it.” (James 5:7) This is the harvest the Lord desires. Therefore, each circumstance in our daily cultivation is calculated to bring us closer to our goal of fruitage to God’s glory. “I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”—Phil. 4:17

God’s Word, the Holy Bible, is the source of guidance, correction and strength for those who are God’s husbandry. They are sanctified by his truth and set apart and maintained in the strait and narrow way—this narrow pathway requires that the principles expounded in the Word of God always work in them to accomplish his will in their lives. “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (I Thess. 2:13) The Word of God feeds, nourishes, and waters the field of God’s church, so that it can grow abundantly.

The Apostle Paul gives all honor to God for this work: “I [Paul] have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.” (I Cor. 3:6,7) The preeminence in this work belongs to God, the husbandman. We, as his planting, are, however, privileged to work with him and with our Lord Jesus to stimulate growth in the vine, as he gives us the opportunity, always acknowledging that all praise, honor and glory belong to him.

This is one important difference in the analogy between God’s husbandry and natural husbandry. The response and participation of the church under development and growth is a prerequisite. Plants, on the other hand, growing under natural conditions, passively soak up the sun, water and nutrients with no active share or cooperation in the process. But a very important aspect of our being cultivated and tilled by God, of being his husbandry, is that we are to be energetically responsive, developing in our characters those traits that will be pleasing to our husbandman, and will glorify him. Additionally, preaching the Word, praying for our brethren, setting examples of the believer, bearing one another’s burdens, laying down our lives in love, will evidence our desire to yield ourselves under God’s hand as he works in us. “We know that we have passed from death unto life [we are not dead branches, needing to be discarded] because we love the brethren.” (I John 3:14) These good works will help us become strong in the Lord, more like our Master, developing the same fruits and graces in our lives as we admire in his great example.

It is essential that we reach upward to our Heavenly Father, in the same manner that a plant stretches toward the source of its life and growth, the sun, to grow in the virtues and spiritual fruitage necessary to become part of the church class. In order to be used in cultivating the fruitage of the same graces in the world of mankind in the Millennial Age, we must first have been cultivated by God.

If we are faithful in developing fruitage now, God as our husbandman will keep us in the true vine. Eventually, we will be assured a place in the body of Christ and take our part in the blessing of all the families of the earth. In Revelation 22:1,2, we read, “He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” These trees, bearing fruit and healing leaves, could well represent the Christ, head and body, holding out their fruitage and foliage freely for the blessing and healing of the nations.

So we, with the Apostle Paul, pray that God will be pleased with his harvest work of this age, and that he will make us perfect in every good work to do his will, working in us that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever.—Heb. 13:21

Dawn Bible Students Association
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