Pro.14:4 "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox." Wisdom here speaks of one of the axioms of an imperfect world: if we are to make advantage of life, there will be certain unpleasantries to deal with but they are worth it. We must consider the trouble/benefit ratio of virtually every venture. Few are the "win/win" issues of life; almost all things are compromises. There may be less hassle in renting an apartment than owning and maintaining a home, but the advantages of home ownership are usually worth it. Paul even advises that there is less hassle in remaining single (1 Co.7:32-35) than being married, but (thankfully) this he only spake by permission, not commandment (1 Co.7:6-7)! Marriage, with all of its frictions, disappointments and distractions is a blessed estate ordained of God for the fulness of man and woman's joy. It is honourable in all (Heb.13:4). The pro's and con's of having an ox may be applied to the minister of Jesus Christ whose worthy labors Paul likens unto that of an ox treading out corn (1 Co.9:9 c/w 1 Ti.5:18). Without a minister in house, believers are relieved of the burden of feeding him, providing him shelter or dealing with the inevitable offensive or repulsive residue that results from his labors. Of masters/teachers, James says, "in many things we offend all" (Jam.3:2). There is bound to be some cleanup needed from time to time as God's ox, shall we say, "rains on their parade." The minister is the Holy Ghost-appointed overseer of the flock (Acts 20:28), whose appointed tasks include scrutiny and warning of the unruly (Heb.13:17 c/w Acts 20:31 c/w Col.1:28), reproof, rebuke and exhortation (2 Ti.4:1-2). No longer can a group of believers be like the wistful men of Laish who "dwelt careless....quiet and secure; and there was no magistrate in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing;..." (Jdg.18:7). When Moses is back in the camp, playtime is over (Exo.32:25-35). There is a lot to be said for not having an ox around. On the other hand, "much increase is by the strength of the ox." The ox is a beast of burden and so is God's minister. The prophet, for example, bore "the burden of the word of the LORD" (Zec.9:1; 12:1; Mal.1:1). It is a weighty responsibility to declare with a weak mind and stammering lips the magnified word of the Lord. The word is also a burden to the minister inasmuch that he dare not desert his duty post of preaching Christ and His righteousness. Paul said, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Co.9:16)! Ministers today speak much about having a burden for this land or that land, this cause or that cause. What is really needed is for ministers to have a burden for the word of the Lord that they might better bear the burden of the word of the Lord to sin and perplexity-burdened saints of the Lord. Then would the word of God INCREASE and the number of disciples MULTIPLY (Acts 6:4-7). Again, "much increase is by the strength of the ox." By the power of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven to preach the gospel (1 Pe.1:12), the minister is able to "feed the flock of God" (Acts 20:28 c/w 1 Pe.5:2), providing milk for the babes and strong meat for them of full age (Heb.5:12-14). God has ordained that the improvement of the saint's faith and understanding come not only by reading, but by teaching. The Ethiopian eunuch, when asked by Philip, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" wisely answered, "How can I, except some man should guide me?" (Acts 8:30-31). Ministerial (i.e. teaching) offices are expressly given to the church for "the perfecting of the saints....for the edifying of the body of Christ...." (Eph.4:11-15). Those who pretend that all they need for perfecting their faith is a Bible and the shade of a good tree are barking up the wrong tree. Clean cribs are nice, but messy oxen are needful.