"Where there are no oxen , the manger is clean,
I love simplicity. Multiple moving parts give me anxiety. Divided focus stresses me out. I am not alone. There are those people who love chaos and thrive in administrating an ever growing mess, but I think most of us like a simple, stable existence. Unfortunately, this proverb challenges us that impact and influence are not found in the vicinity of simple and minimalist.
This proverb acknowledges that where there are no oxen the manger is clean. There are no beasts to feed. There are no hooves to shod. There are no stalls to muck. There is no worry that my ox is going to gore another ox or a human being (I guess this was a major problem based on the amount of the civil code in Exodus dedicated to the issue). The manger is clean. Life is simple.
What is also true? The grain silo is empty. The barn is full of cobwebs. The grange sits unused. The abundant harvest comes through the strength of the ox. This proverb encourages to embrace the mess. To welcome the headache. To wade into the troubles. Why? Because doing anything of significance is going to take a lot of effort and energy. Nothing worthwhile in life comes easy.
For those of us who follow Jesus this is especially true of reaching people. People can be the messiest beasts of them all. Jesus referred to people as harvest (Matt. 9:37). He said the workers are few. If we are serious about proclaiming the gospel and seeing people come and live under the rule and reign of Jesus than we are going to have to embrace the mess, the headaches, and the troubles that come with an abundant harvest.
Let us leave the clean stable behind and relentlessly pursue full storehouses.