“Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;
But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.”
A few years back, when we were looking to purchase a home, my wife and I spent our days off going to open houses and visiting model homes. It was easy to tell the difference between the two. The model homes were immaculate. The decor was thematic, the furniture and carpets unstained, and the walls were noticeably unmarked by crayon, ink pen or dirty hand prints. At first glance, I would feel envious. Our house looked nothing like that. Our carpets showed evidence of four boys, who were incapable of wiping the mud off their feet before entering the house. The walls bore the evidence that they had not, in fact, washed their hands before or after dinner, and the couches proved that cups with lids are no guarantee against things being spilled. I would look at the model and think to myself, “Wow, wouldn’t it be nice if we could keep our house looking like this.” However, after a little consideration, I realized, there was an explanation as to why the model home was so clean and our house, well, not so much. No one lived in the model. It was a shell, four walls that contained furnishings, but no life.
Solomon is expressing that same thought in another way. Simply put, he is declaring that at times, life is messy. If we try to avoid the mess, we may, in turn, miss out on living. Many of us work very hard to be comfortable, and we avoid anything that disturbs that comfort. We neglect getting more involved in church, because it may mess up the kids schedule, or we fail to commit to serving the Lord, because it will conflict with our comforts. Our goal should not be living in comfort, but living to please the Lord. There are times when God will ask us to do things which will disturb our routine, or force us outside of our comfort zone. Part of His reasoning for doing this, is our personal growth. It is in those times when we are most uncomfortable, that we look to the Lord the most. When we feel like we can handle things, we press on in our own capacities. It is when we realize we have no experience to lean on, that we find ourselves crying out to the Lord.
Keep in mind, that while stepping out and serving Christ may make life a bit messy, there is great, even eternal value in everything that is done faithfully unto the Lord.