Greetings, friend. I hope you’ve been enjoying your summer. It’s still summer here, but the cool nights tell us it won’t last forever. God’s Word does abide forever. In studying the book of Proverbs recently, I’ve been amazed at its relevance to our day and our struggles, even after 3,000 years. Here’s an example:
Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14:4
You have to chew on this one. He’s saying, “So, do you farmers want a really clean barn? That’s simple. Just get rid of all the animals.” The problem with that solution, of course, is that it defeats the whole purpose of farming! You need the oxen to plow the fields, and (implied) to fertilize them.
My favorite OT Commentator, Derek Kidner, puts it this way:
Orderliness can reach the point of sterility….(This is a plea for) the readiness to accept upheaval, and a mess to clear up, as the price of growth. It has many applications to personal, institutional and spiritual life…to foster a farmer’s outlook, rather than a curator’s. Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1964), p. 106.
You’re a farmer, not a curator. Life is not a natural history museum filled with exquisitely stuffed beasts, safely behind glass. It’s a living, working, farm that bears crops. But you’re not farming in the New Creation yet. Things often go wrong, and the weather doesn’t comply, and you might feel like your work is in vain. Yet, you keep on patiently working the ground, tending the animals, cleaning up the mess—and enjoying the harvest in due time. May that come true in your own walk.
And if you are a Christian, as you persevere in your daily tasks, always remember that the Lord is farming you! You are his crop. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:18 (NIV) Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:20 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
Blessings to you,
Andrew H. Selle