By Pastor Scott
Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox. (Proverbs 14:4 NKJV)
I want you to have a good think about this Proverb which may seem a little abstract. Ponder it’s meaning and significance. For me, this is a Proverb that has taught me some important lessons in ministry, church life, and family life.
First let’s look at the literal meaning of this Proverb:
Basically, a barn can be kept cleanly swept and looking good where there are no oxen, but isn't it better to have some dust and dirt around, knowing that the labour of an ox will lead to a bountiful harvest? The rewards of toil more than compensate for its disagreeable aspects.
Let’s think about this Proverb in the context of church. For a church to work successfully it needs to function as a Body of believers and not as one person leading the show and doing all the work. We need Oxen for the work to be done and the harvest to be plentiful. This can sometimes come at a cost though as everyone is different and people have different quirks and issues they are working through. Nobody is perfect, therefore not everything that the church does is going to be perfect and clean and tidy, mistakes and messes are unavoidable unless nobody does anything, but then what have we achieved. We will have no harvest.
I remember the story of Calvary Chapel in its early days when Chuck and Kay Smith were inviting Hippies to the church. It is amazing the fruit that was seen from many people of that generation and culture getting saved and dedicating their lives to the Lord. Many went on to be great Bible teaches and respectable leaders in churches around the world. But the attitude of the church before it all started was to prevent the hippies coming because they didn’t wear shoes! They were afraid the new carpet in the sanctuary would get dirty! As you may know, Pastor Chuck responded by saying that they should then tear out the carpet if that’s what it will take.
Think about this with your personal stuff for a moment. I can’t remember what TV show it was on, but it had somebody purchasing a really nice couch, the problem is, it was so nice that they left it wrapped in plastic so that it wouldn’t get dirty or stained. The result was that nobody could enjoy it! It wasn’t comfortable to sit on. Maybe this speaks to you. Sometimes we may be afraid to open our houses to hospitality for instance as we are afraid of our stuff getting messy. Sometimes we are afraid to step out into ministry as we are afraid of the risks. Yet much increase will come of it. I can promise you that.
Let me finish on this commentary from the Believers Bible Commentary:
This proverb is not intended to encourage homes or chapels that look like disaster areas. But it does discourage that passion for order and dustlessness that puts the brakes on progress and productiveness.