I found myself thinking that, in our economy there are three basic kinds of businesses. There are miners, those that withdraw existing resources without replacing them. There are builders, those who take existing resources and put them together in a new way. And there are farmers, those who nurture and encourage life to create new resources that nourish and enrich the lives of others.
In a similar way, as we live in relationship with others, we can be miners (who receive resources from others without giving back), builders (who receive resources from some and give back to others without a net gain), or farmers (who enhance and enrich the lives of others by giving of ourselves and blessing other people). We function in different ways at different times in our lives, sometimes being a miner, at others, a builder, and still others, a farmer. But how can we be intentional about being a farmer most of the time? How can we be intentional about being a net contributor of blessing to the people around us?
The biblical concept to which I am referring is fruitfulness. In the Old Testament, the primary understanding of fruitfulness was an increase in the productive ability of land or the reproductive ability of livestock or people that results as a blessing from the Lord. For example, in Ezekiel 36, God says to the mountains of Israel, “I will increase the number of people and animals living on you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:11). In the New Testament, fruitfulness is not measured by the bushels of barley that your field produced or the number of lambs weaned from your flock or the number of children in your family. In the New Testament, Jesus measures our fruitfulness by our love for others. On the night before He was nailed to a cross to die for the sins of the whole world, Jesus said to His followers,
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.… 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples .9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.… 17 This is my command: Love each other. (John 15:5, 8-9, 17)
Just as the vine of a pole bean must be connected to the main stem of the plant to produce beans, so also we must be connected to Jesus to be fruitful. You can’t get something from nothing, and we don’t have within us the kind of love Jesus is talking about. But Jesus loves us with an amazing, all-encompassing, life-giving love, and He gives us His love as a totally free gift.
Romans 8: 31-39 talk about the life-giving nourishment that flows from Jesus to us:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? [With Jesus, there are no unmet needs.] 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. [With Jesus, there are no accusations.] 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. [With Jesus, there is no condemnation.] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [With Jesus, there is nothing that interferes with His love for us.]
Imagine what it would be like for you if, right here, right now, you had everything that you really needed from God, plus God was not accusing you of anything, and God was not condemning for anything, and God’s infinite love was flowing towards you without restriction or interference of any kind! Can you imagine what that would be like? Think of the anxiety that would melt away and the peace and joy that would overflow in your heart if such a thing were true!
The Bible is telling us that such a thing is true, right here, right now, in a relationship with Jesus! And the imagination that you need to grasp what those words mean for you is faith. All you have to do is remain in Jesus’ love. And you do that by imagining and then trusting what the reality of Jesus’ love means for you personally.
As you remain in Jesus’ love, the love that flows from Him to you will make you into a farmer that blesses, enlivens and enriches the lives of others. And this broken, hurting and dying world needs more farmers that serve as signposts that point to the Saviour who blesses, enlivens and enriches the world. Happy farming!
In Christ’s love,
 This is a very simplistic understanding of our economy which is given for illustrative purposes only. I realize and greatly appreciate that miners and builders also add great value to our economy, just as farmers do. –Pastor James