Friday, June 8, 2012

The Ox

Proverbs 14:4

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

Life often comes down to goals and costs. We have to figure out what we want and then we have to figure out what it would cost to try to get it or accomplish it.

Everything costs something. Whether time, money, sleep, energy, reputation, pride, or your very life.

The author of this proverb is communicating what we know all too well: In life, there is a lot of crap we have to deal with. (or 'with which we have to deal' if you want to get grammatical)

If you make the goal of your life a clean manger, the fastest way to that end (and possibly wisest given the goal) is to get rid of your ox. However, you will not have an abundant harvest.

Oxen are great for doing physical labor. However, they require a lot of food and water to sustain them. Also, they need a place to stay. Additionally, they will crap all over said place. For all that oxen are good at, cleaning up after themselves they are not.

If you desire a large harvest and a life of producing fruit, you will have to resolve yourself to the fact that you will be shovelling a lot of crap behind the scenes. Sitting down to a meal provided by the sweat of your brow is a rewarding enticement, but much like sausage, it is better for most sitting at the table if they do not know how it was made.

Resolve yourself to the tasks at hand. That means doing them because you know they are required in order to get to the end at which you aim. It means not complaining, whining, getting grouchy, or growing in bitterness over the inconvenience of the peripheral tasks. If you want a harvest, you will have to shovel crap, get up early and lose sleep, fix stuff that breaks, endure the Sovereignty of God's will in the weather, and resolve yourself in knowing that the harvest is worth the effort.

You could shoot your ox, eat him, and choose a life of clean barns, mornings where you sleep in, a back not made sore by the labors of yesterday, hands and feet free from callouses, and no fruit, no harvest, no wife, no kids, etc... If you choose this life, please do the women in your life the courtesy of not dragging them into your fruitless life by asking them to marry you, let alone introduce children into this mess of laziness..

Children, Marriage, Ministry, Industry, and Legacy all require work that in part resembles most accurately the agricultural analogy of this proverb: shovelling crap. Kids cost money and rob you of sleep, a spouse demands your attention and calls you out of selfishness, ministry will wear you down, successful careers requires sacrifices, and all because living for tomorrow requires so much of you today.

Please listen my children: Choose a harvest. It is so hard and so worth it. It will stretch you and demand of you more than you ever would demand of yourself and in so doing, you will become more like Jesus than you ever were on your lonesome.

The fruit produced by your life will not save you or earn anything for you with regard to your legal standing before our Holy Judge. But it can speak loudly as evidence to the reality of the Gospel having taken residence inside you. Sheer will power alone can produce fruit and determination.  Many a man has ruined himself in prioritizing industry over everything else.

If you are found by Jesus, you will find everything in Him. Be careful how you spend yourself. If everything costs something is a universal truth on one end of the economics of life, the other end provides an equally compelling truth: You will spend yourself on something.

Isaiah 55:2-3

"Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant..."

1 comment:

  1. you could not have written this more perfectly. and i love the point you (and, ahem, scripture) made at the end: you WILL spend yourself on something - why spend it on stuff that's not worth it?

    i'm glad you're spending your life shoveling the crap that comes along with being married to me.