A farmer had three sons. The day came when he sent his sons into the fields, each to farm a different crop. Each son went to his assigned plot of ground and began to work.
The eldest son went to his field, tossed over-ripe tomatoes on the ground, and then went home. After three months, the eldest son reaped a quick and bountiful harvest of ripe, juicy tomatoes. He was hailed as a farming genius, sought by man for his wisdom in planting, caring, and harvesting a crop. So impressed were other farmers that they took to heart his methods. However, after two weeks the crop of tomatoes had either been eaten or had rotted.
The middle son plowed his ground, planted his seed, and then went to play golf. After five months he reaped his grain, filling his father’s barn to overflowing. The harvest brought about a great profit during the winter months when the townsfolk came to him for grain to make their bread. He was applauded for his business abilities and profitability. Then his field lay fallow.
All year long the youngest son worked to sprout his apple seeds. As the seedlings grew slowly, he pruned them, bathed them to kill pests, and set up warmers during the cold weather. One year turned to two, and two became ten. The trees grew so slowly that his two elder brothers scoffed at him for his lack of produce. Townspeople suggested his methods were wrong, that he didn’t work hard enough, and that his calling wasn’t to be a farmer.
Twenty-three years passed before the youngest son picked his first apple.
Now I ask you: Which son was successful?
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor (1 Corinthians 3:6-8).