Have you ever been reading the Bible and come across what would seem like a fairly innocuous verse and felt like God was wanting you to dwell on it? That happened to me the other day. Here I was reading Proverbs 14 and all of a sudden comes verse 4, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve read this verse before and zipped right by without thinking much of it at all. So, it was pretty strange when I felt this pulling to read over that verse again and then it became cleat to me about what God wanted me to see.
It’s easy to keep the manger clean if you never let an oxen in to mess it up. The downside is that you have both a clean manger and abundant crops without the ox. So what does that mean for us? Well, I can have a pretty clean, normal life if I control what comes in and out of it(as much as we can possibly be in control, right?). However, I’m not guaranteed any crops or fruit as Jesus calls it in in John 15. In order for my life to bear fruit it’s going to get messy. Jesus is the ox that is going to bring the crops.
I think our desire is to keep things comfortable and nice and neat but Jesus would have us live very differently. This is a daily struggle. In Luke we read Jesus say, ““If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” We have to make a conscious decision to live this way every day or even minute by minute at times. Following Jesus doesn’t bring comfort to our lives. In the Gospels Jesus tells us over and over again that people will hate us on account of him. We’re told to deny ourselves and what is it that ourselves want most of all? To be comfortable and have nice things. There’s very little, if any, room for that in the life Jesus has told us to live.
Is your manger clean? We must decide to deny ourselves and allow God to lead us into messy lives for His glory. Pray that you will open yourself up to his leading. Ephesians 3:20-21, “20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
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