This verse reminds me of my school days when I was a teacher. I used to particularly enjoy days when the children weren’t in school and the teachers had time to get organised, arrange classrooms, prepare their walls with suitable materials and plan their topics. There always seemed so much to do and it was a great feeling to have time to tackle the mountain of work that was waiting for me. Then the children would arrive, and from the moment they appeared, you never had a minute to yourself. The mountain of work seemed to just stand there towering over you until the children went home at the end of the day. School seemed a great place when the children weren’t there!
A church can feel a bit the same. When you’re in the building on your own it feels peaceful and quiet. Then the people arrive, and the children with all their energy and high spirits. The church bustles with clamour and noise. People are happy to see each other and there are many happy hellos, handshaking and even hugs! This is where the second half of this verse comes in:
‘but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.’ Prov 14:4b
If we are to reap a harvest, and a large one at that, we have to be like the strong oxen. We have to be able to pull a heavy load and plough a straight furrow. Amid all the happiness, there are people from all different walks of life who all have different opinions and are all at different stages of their faith. It requires strong oxen who can pull in the same direction to plough a straight furrow: bringing the truth of the word of God and the unity of spirit that is needed to bring us into the presence of God.
We have many coming around us who come from all different walks of life. Some have addiction problems, some are mature Christians who have been on the road for many years and are hungry for the deep things of God, and others are fairly new and are just learning how to pray and hear the voice of God for themselves. If I were to look at the task ahead of me without faith, I would think it was impossible.
Only the Spirit of God can bring the unity that is needed for the blessing of God to fall. Only the Spirit of God on the strong ‘oxen’. It’s a good illustration. There’s not much glory about being an ox! It means an obedient heart, a steady pace, a clear goal and a daily ploughing in a straight line. There can be no wavering, no days off, no wandering off where you want to, doing your own thing and taking it easy. The goal must be set and your eyes are on the target ahead. The fields need ploughed. The truth needs to be taught. Souls need to be welcomed, questions need to be answered, scriptures need to be explained and help offered to those who struggle.
And yet would we want it any other way? When I am alone in the church in quiet would I want it to stay that way? Of course not! There is no greater joy than leading souls to our wonderful Saviour. It is an utter privilege to be yoked with Christ and to steadily plough with Him, winning souls into the kingdom. Let each learn to be strong for it is in serving Him that we will find our greatest joy.