Till the Ground

  • (Genesis 3:23) …Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
  • (1 Timothy 4:6) If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

Good day, Friends. Here’s an exhortation on some important requirements for the truly called and appointed by God to do ministry. For some of you it might seem strange to have the two scriptures above … but after a closer look into the definition for “till” in Genesis 3:23 it helped to show that they are conjoined by precept upon precept.

Let’s look at the Ancient Hebrew definition for “till” — it has two parts:

  1. Serve: To provide a service to another or to work at a profession. Related Words: serve, do, till, servant, work, worshipper, service, dress, labour, ear, make, go, keep, move, wrought.
  2. Garden: as enclosed or fenced.

This two part definition is the core function of a good minister of Jesus Christ — they work according to their call and profession of faith; they strive to be an obedient servant; they labor in the word and doctrine; they do the work of the ministry; they worship God in spirit and in truth; they guard the word of God (from loss or injury, properly by keeping their eye upon it); they strive to be an example of the believers; (at the pastor/bishop level) they strive to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus…. (1 Timothy 6:12; Philippians 2:8; 1 Timothy 5:17; Ephesians 4:11-13; John 4:24; 14:21; Colossians 1:28; 1 Timothy 4:12).

This is only an abbreviated list.

God’s ministers are busy as Jesus said to His disciples that …He must work the works of Him who sent Him, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work (John 9:4). And in John 4:34, Jesus said, …My meat is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

Let us also consider what Paul said in Acts 20:22-24, “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”


Now, let’s look at “till” according to Merriam-Webster:

  • to foster the growth of;
  • to improve by labor, care, or study;
  • to look after and help in the development of;
  • to work by plowing, sowing, and raising….


As we can see from these definitions, to “till” the ground requires a lot of time, natural care, love, patience, knowledge, and responsibility to reap the most favorable results. In ministry, the labor is ongoing until the minister is deceased then the work is passed on to the leader God appoints. Remember Moses and Joshua (Joshua 1:1-2).

Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Paul knew that his end drew near and needed someone who naturally cared for the state of the people he ministered to for so many years to continue the work. God revealed to Paul that Timothy was the one for the job — he was the one appointed by God to maintain and foster the continued growth of the people at the church in Ephesus … in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Timothy was charged to help them continue to develop into perfect disciples of the Lord Jesus; to help them continue to stand and fight the good fight of faith; to bring them into remembrance of what God said; and so much more….

Everyone called and chosen by God to do ministry have been given the charge to till the ground on which they are appointed to labor according to the ability He gave them; to plant and/or water the seed of truth; to continue to till the ground; to watch God move; to hear the word at God’s mouth, and to give the people warning from Him — these things (and much more) are done according to the minister’s proportion of faith as well as the ability and level of responsibility God laid upon them to do ministry.

Here’s a very brief but vital list to consider and to know about God’s real ministers:

  • We must make full proof of our ministry.
  • We must strive for the mastery.
  • We must be temperate in all things.
  • We must preach the word of God in season … out of season.
  • We must preach and teach when necessity is laid upon us.
  • We must preach and teach according to the ability God gave us.
  • We must speak as the oracles of God.
  • We must say and speak what God commands.
  • We must seek the honor that comes from God only.
  • We must NEVER preach or teach from our own heart.
  • We must NEVER speak of ourselves.
  • We must NEVER seek our own glory….

The good minister of the Lord Jesus Christ brings the brethren into remembrance of what God said.

Consider these references on remembrance:

  • (Romans 15:15-16) Nevertheless, brethren, I have written the more boldly unto you in some sort, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God, That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
  • (1 Corinthians 4:15-17) For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
  • (2 Timothy 1:6-7) Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
  • (2 Timothy 2:14-15) Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
  • (2 Peter 1:12-15) Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
  • (2 Peter 3:1-4) This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
  • (Jude 1:3-4) Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

As you can see, tilling the ground in the natural is somewhat like sowing seed in ministry because of how critical it is for the ground to be in the best condition to receive seed—as it is for the heart of man to be in an honest and good condition to receive the word of God so that they will bring forth much good fruit, with patience, to glorify Him (Luke 8:15).

Having said that, in ministry it is essential to care naturally for the welfare of the people to grow in grace, in knowledge, in doctrine, in spirit, in good morals, and in good social behavior towards one another …and… in the Lord unto perfection.

The good minister of Jesus Christ is nourished up (i.e., they are educated and skilled) in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto they have attained (i.e., whereunto they have faithfully followed [and conformed to] the word which God set in place). We cannot over emphasize that, the good minister of the Lord Jesus always brings the brethren into remembrance of what God said.

They are teachers who put in the mind of the brethren (and serve notice to them when necessary of) what God said — they break things down so that the brethren may come to understand how to bring forth much good fruit to glorify the Lord — and so shall they be His disciples (John 15:8).

Final Note—
One of the most important things the good minister of Jesus Christ will learn to do is outlined by Paul to Timothy:

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” — 1 Timothy 4:16

The phrase “take heed” means, “to pay attention.” Louw-Nida adds clarity — “to keep on the lookout for, to be alert for, to be on ones guard against.” This mindset applies both to self and to the doctrine, continually. The minister must learn and know himself/herself as well as the principles of the doctrine of Christ in order to save themselves and those who hear them.

Consider the following precepts to 1 Timothy 4:16:

  • (1 Timothy 4:12) Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
  • (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6) For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost…
  • (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12) Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
  • (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9) Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
  • (Titus 2:7-8) In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
  • (1 Peter 5:1-3) The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

If you are in ministry, how much natural care do you give for the growth of the brethren in the Lord than for the cares of this life and the world? Do you present yourself a pattern (model) of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness (purity), gravity (uprightness), sincerity (genuineness), sound speech, that cannot be condemned…? How good of an example are you of the believers? Can they follow your faith and Jesus through discipleship? Think about it.

You will know if you are a good minister of Jesus Christ who care naturally for the state of the brethren because you will always bring them into remembrance of what … God … said.

In Christ We Do Remain
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