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The Monthly Bread Archives

"The Oxen in the Crib"

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

I remember hearing a story about a minister freshly out of Bible School who went to a church to candidate for a position as pastor. Upon arriving he met a man sweeping up in the sanctuary and asked him where he might find the pastor. The man told him that the pastor was unavailable for the moment and asked the minister if he would help him finish cleaning up while he waited. "I am a preacher of the Gospel and I don't clean up garbage", replied the minister. "You may be a preacher",replied the pastor sweeping,"but you'll never be the pastor of this church as long as you lack the credentials of a servant. You're not the man for us."

Cleanliness is not always next to Godliness when it comes to the labor of a servant. Apparently, God expects a servant to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty when the kingdom of God calls for it.

This young man's idea of a servant was to love in word only without loving in deed. Like many people who want to keep the crib clean, he saw his life in a orderly fashion, under his control, and motivated by self interest. This man did not understand the principle that "the greatest in the kingdom of God is servant of all." Being just a servant positionally without any hands-on job training will mean a powerless and unfruitful ministry for anyone.

The "living creatures" in Ezek 1:5,10 as ministers of God yield valuable lessons for Christian service. The face of the Ox suggests a relentless worker who serves when he is called upon to do so whether he feels like it or not. He is willing to endure through weariness and pain if necessary but he never chooses the easy way.

Prov 14:4 shows us that a farmer must make the provision of caring for the ox if he is to ever avail himself of the animal's strength. The oxen need attending to work more effectively. If a farmer never owns oxen, there will never be a mess to clean up in the barn - but he'll also never have the means to plow and bring forth crops either.

This principle is equally true in our spiritual walks as Christians since people are the work of the Lord. We see that the priority of God is not conveniently keeping the stall neat but to reap the harvest field. Our goal should never be to live in a problem free atmosphere, striving to keep things running smoothly, or looking to arrive at the place of security through our own efforts - this is what's known as the "clean crib". God will take care of these things -- this should not be our concern . The servant's effort is to bear fruit for God's Kingdom.

If we dismiss the opportunities to function as a servant in our life, no doubt the self - made man will live undisturbed and unchallenged but where will the spiritual fruit come from? We can not sow ease and reap fruit. There is no strength and victory for those who count convenience more important than the effort of love. There'll be no possibility of fruit if there is no plowing going on in your life. God has ordained by his will that we, as disciples, produce for His kingdom. This is the nature and purpose of God's people.

John 15:8..Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
John 15:16..Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain:

We've all heard the gas company slogan " put the tiger in your tank": well, how about letting the Lord put the ox in the crib of your heart. Let him build a servant attitude in your character that will have the strength, the power, and yes the victory to conquer the enemies in front of the promised land. It's a matter of will to let the ox in your heart and to grow and experience the fruit of spiritual increase.

I must admit that nothing is more messy than the dealings of the cross. There is the inconvenience, the sacrificial suffering, and yes, the dying daily that seems to bring so much disorder to the self life. But with the mess comes much increase and that increase of righteous fruit is Jesus Christ Himself.

John 3:30...He must increase, but I must decrease. (KJV)

God is not the one who will ever deny the oxen in the crib of our hearts. We alone hold the key to letting a servant's attitude be put in their by the Lord. Again it's a matter of will when it comes to God making us. If the crib of our heart is not open to change, we will deny the Holy Spirit the opportunity to make us the ox that serves usefully to bring the increase for God's Kingdom.