God's Ox

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Thursday, March 19, 2015
(Proverbs 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 a car than owning and maintaining one, but the advantages of car ownership are usually worth it. Paul even advises that there is less hassle in remaining single (1CO 7:32-35) than being married, but this he only spoke by permission, not commandment (1CO 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 (1CO 9:9; 1TI 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 noise or repulsive residue that he produces. 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 makes a discretionary call that “rains on their parade” or reproves their waywardness like a big “party pooper.” The minister is the Holy Ghost-appointed overseer of the flock (ACT 20:28), whose appointed tasks include scrutiny and warning of the unruly (HEB 13:17; 1CO 4:14 c/w TIT 1:6), reproof, rebuke and exhortation (2TI 4:1-3). No longer can a group of believers be like the libertine 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). Israel, left to themselves, defiled themselves festively (EXO 32:1-6) but when Moses was back in the camp, playtime was over (EXO 32:25-35). There is a lot to be said for not having an ox around but it is rare to find a church like the one at Philippi of which Paul said, “...ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence...” (PHIL 2:12). 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; ZEC 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 in 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” (1CO 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 (ACT 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 (1PE 1:12), by much study (which is a weariness of the flesh, ECC 12:12), the minister is able to feed the flock of God (ACT 20:28; 1PE 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 comes 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?” (ACT 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). Clean cribs are nice, but messy oxen are needful.

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