Fruitful Labor Produces More Fruit

Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: But much increase is by the strength of the ox.Proverbs 14:14

Another way to state this is to say that profit is messy. Profit is of necessity messy.

  • A good way to keep your workshop clean is by never going in there.
  • A good way to keep your desk in great shape is by never sitting down at it.
  • A good way to not have to shovel out the barn is to not fill it with animals.

Returning to the proverb, there is a question that must be asked as the text draws down on us. Do you want a clean barn or a productive barn? If you want a productive barn, then you want one that will be routinely and regularly and constantly in need of a cleaning.

Work is hard – Work is heavy.

Work leaves bits of things on the floor that need to be swept up at the end of the day. An elegantly prepared table with a four course meal requires a  kitchen that will at least temporarily be quite messy.

Now of course, as sinners, we have a profound propensity to quote the wrong proverb to ourselves. As C.S. Lewis once put it, when confronted with a flood, we break out the fire extinguishers. We crowd to the side of the boat that is about to go under. What this means is that the lazy farmer who needs to shovel out his barn a lot more frequently than he does, is the farmer who is likely to know about this particular proverb. A cross-stitch decoration of this proverb may even be hanging over his mantle. Certainly, his own laziness and misapplication doesn’t discredit the scripture,  but he still needs to clean out the barn. There are disorderly places that are not the sign of productivity, and have descended to nothing more than being a fire hazard.

To the proprietors of all such, the exhortation would be to remember that there is a ditch on both sides of the road. If the fastidious need to learn how productive the right kind of messiness can be, then they need to learn how productive the right kind regular maintenance can be.So you should clean up your workspace regularly. But you should do this because you mess it up regularly.