This might be one of the most amusing proverbs.
Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. – Proverbs 14:4
Yup, the Bible just talked about poop. In related news, I’ve spent the last 4 days with my 3 and 5 year old children, so potty humor might be sneaking its way into my otherwise totally mature demeanor. Also sarcasm.
Anyway, the point of the Proverb seems pretty straightforward. Sometimes you have to get down and dirty to make a profit. This is obviously true in the working world. It might mean literally, as in the case of the farmer, or figuratively, like a manager doing entry level tasks because the job has to get done by someone.
I’d submit that we can expand this analogy in many different directions. In ministry, sometimes there are hard jobs that appear to have little glory or recognition, but they are necessary and even critical to the entire organization’s success.
How about relationships? They aren’t always pretty and sometimes the people we love the most can be the hardest to stay patient with. Not only do we see all the unbecoming sides to them, but they expose our murky hidden secrets as well. But sticking it out and working through and past those things is a lesson in grace and forgiveness that profits us greatly.
Parenting. Need I say more?
And hey, speaking of mangers and parenting, I seem to remember a certain child born in a manger.
Yup, sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves, put on the hip waders, and go clean out the manger. Because somebody has to do it and you never know when a miracle could happen.