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Got oxen?

Faith & Inspiration

I have always preferred to live in a tidy house than a messy one. The question of preferences is, of course, how much do you prefer it? Do you prefer orderliness but possess the ability to forgo it temporarily for a higher priority? Or are you constitutionally unable to function if the living room is full of unopened crates? In other words, the question of preference is a question of idolatry, and correlatively, of bondage. Do you have the preference, or does it have you?

Francis Schaeffer told us that it was OK to have an Oriental rug-as long as you didn't mind someone puking on it. (He knew whereof he spoke: He was addressing a colony of smelly, bellbottomed hippy guests in his Swiss chalet.)

Jesus told a rich young man that he would have to get rid of all his money if he wanted to follow Him (Matthew 19:21). Jesus didn't tell everybody that, just the young man. He knew this particular seeker's main hang-up was an inability to let go of his "stuff."

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Jesus told another would-be disciple that if he followed Him he would have to not mind being homeless, because Jesus was homeless (Luke 9:58). You have to let go of all preferences-or comfort, or "stuff," for tidiness-to be a follower of Jesus.

This morning I happened to read this Proverb:

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox" (Proverbs 14:4).

In other words, it's nice to have a clean and tidy manger (or tidy living room, or Oriental rug without puke stains). And it's true enough that if you have no action, you have no problems. But as a matter of fact, if you prefer a spic-and-span manger to a manger with a messy ox in it, you will not have a beast to pull your plow, and you will not have crops. So take your pick.

Material prosperity requires the ability to endure temporary discombobulation. Likewise for spiritual prosperity and harvest. When the neighbor calls and asks you to drop everything to give her a ride, or an afternoon of your time, you have just been handed a variation on the "ox" Proverb: Go for tidiness and that is all you will have. Endure the messiness and you will reap a blessing.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.

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