Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
This proverb stopped me in my tracks the other week. I am sure that I had read it before, but it had never jumped out at me. At first it stopped me because it just seemed so random. I didn’t get it. In the midst of Solomon talking about the fool and the faithful, stands this one piece about oxen and mangers. I had to read it a few times.
Often in Proverbs an abstract thought is presented by means of a concrete example. Rev Dr Abraham Cohen says in his commentary on Proverbs that, “the owner is spared the trouble of cleaning it (the manger) periodically and seeing that the animals are provided with food. But this apparent advantage is more than counterbalanced by the emptiness of the barn, which means a shortness of food for the man.”
What hit me about this proverb is the parallel I find in my life as a redeemed daughter of the King. I need the work of Jesus Christ in the harvest of my soul to bring forth fruit. For those that receive Jesus and believe in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God (John 1:12). That work is finished. You are a daughter of God in Jesus Christ. That seed has been planted in the field. But there is a whole lot of growth until that seed becomes a tree. As this growth is happening it will get messy, and the field of your soul will have to put some fertilizer to use. So I am faced with two choices – abundant fruit in my life, which will get a little messy in the process, or minimal to no fruit, but no mess. I choose abundant fruit.
So, having recognized the benefit of abundant fruit that will feed and sustain me year round over minimal fruit that will leave me starving or dead, I also accept that it will get messy. When things get messy in our lives it is not fun, however, the Father, through the finished work of Jesus Christ, and the continuing work of His Holy Spirit, will continue to show us year by year His faithfulness, and others as well as ourselves will see the fruit of that. We won’t see the fruit during certain seasons, just the mess, but when the harvest comes we surely give thanks!
In the mess, I see I am faced with a further choice – I can hide the messiness of life, or it can be put to use for even greater fruitfulness in the field. When oxen were used in the field their manure often fertilized it as well. God is not glorified if I hide my mess. You would think it crazy if the farmer hid the manure under the bed or in the refrigerator, but that is what we do with our mess! We hide it so that no one will know that our harvest comes often at the price of the mess. God is glorified in the midst of the mess, as we turn to him in dependence, and as we are continually made into His image. Therefore, we have no reason to boast, but to praise Him. God knows that He has chosen jars of clay to carry this treasure of the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:7). If you see someone showing a lot of fruit in their life, understand that a lot of messy has come with that as well.
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving as a symbol of rejoicing after a successful harvest. You may be celebrating Thanksgiving this week with family and friends. I hope you enjoy great fellowship, food and thankfulness. For those that experience a less than peaceful version of the holidays, I hope you remember to allow the messiness of life to form Christ in you. Let God form Christ in you through the conversations and interactions.
Christian sister, gospel yourself. Speak the truth to yourself this week, and let the messiness of life reminds us that this life is finite, but the inner treasure of Jesus Christ is eternal. Don’t let the messiness of life get you down or surprise you. Don’t run away from it or hide it because of the fear of man. Trust in God that He will work all things together for your good. Continue to watch Him show Himself faithful. This may not be the season where you can see the full spiritual harvest, but growth is happening all the time, it is coming. The seed of faith in Jesus Christ will become a tree and a harvest that will bear much fruit (Matt. 13:31-32).
Truth: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28