Monday, September 30, 2013

How’s Your Crib?

Proverbs 14:4 (KJV)  Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.

OK.  A show of hands.  How many have gotten that verse in a sermon as applying to work, ministry, evangelism, etc.?  Me too.  And that’s a proper application.  But the verse took my meditation in a different direction, based on the rest of the proverb and my own recent spiritual explorations, here.  Let’s see where that took me.

Fair warning.  If you don’t consider the Bible to be the inerrant and/or infallible Word of God, you may or may not want to continue reading.  The Bible is the basis for much of what I’ve posted on this blog and will continue to be my foundation.  With that said, here we go.

The crib mentioned is the feeding trough.  Unlike us, oxen sleep where they eat.  When we remember that an ox is a work animal that can weigh up to a ton, it creates quite a picture.  We see an animal who is likely to be tired and hungry and unconcerned about its droppings.  That’s often applied, as we suggested, to work or ministry.  But, after our discussions of what hinders unity and our look at the problems of human thought that doesn’t line up with God’s thoughts, there’s another application.

If we reverse the order of the two parts of the verse and apply the context of our recent discussions, there’s another important spiritual message.  Yes, human effort and thought, by themselves, can accomplish quite a bit.  But they will also create a mess. 

An ox needs guidance and direction when hauling a load.  If not, that load of hay could end up on the neighbor’s farm.  The ox will go for the easiest path, which isn’t always the right one.  Sounds like us, doesn’t it?  And, once the ox is back in his stall, he’s only interested in eating and sleeping, with no thought to cleaning up.  Very much like our flesh.

God took care of a major stall cleanup at the Cross, while we were out of the stall (Romans 5:8).  But we need direction to keep focused on the Cross or we lose direction and, at the very least, have a harder time than necessary getting home.  The way of the flesh is much easier.  So, we have God’s Word to guide us.

That guide is clear and precise, even if we can sometimes muddy the directions.  That’s not the fault of the Word.  It’s our interpretation that can be at fault.  We need to get that right.  Just like the directions to reach the right goal, the Bible also helps maintain our “stall” and how we’re to live in it. 
highland oxen
If we’re like those Highland oxen shown above there’d be variations in the instructions for the care and feeding from those for oxen that are more like our domesticated cattle.  That’s why there are different calls mentioned in the Bible.  Each has its own specific function and its own needs.  Those are different for a stay at home mom than they are for a pastor, which is different from those of a gas station attendant or a doctor.  And even those may vary from culture to culture.  But even though those specific calls may vary, we’re all called to draw people to God, whatever our position.  All the oxen are used to carry loads.

So, in our every day lives, we can expect several things.  We’re intended to bear a burden.  How we’re directed depends on our breed of oxen (call).  And our care and feeding depends on God’s plan for us, not the direction our undirected flesh wants to go in.  And God will always be keeping our stalls clean, once we find the barn.  See Hebrews 13:5.  So, how’s your crib, today?

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