Posted by: Brad Beaman | June 30, 2012

The Blessing of a Messy Stall

Have you ever looked at someone and just wondered how do they do it? Their yard is mowed. Their flower bed is weeded. Their car is always washed. Their garage is swept and everything is put back exactly in its place. If that is not your experience then I have a verse for you.

Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14:4

For you the grass needs mowing. There are weeds in the flower bed. The laundry is piled up and there is a pile of books and papers on your desk.  This may be a blessing!

I remember going into a shoe store department. Every shoe was displayed beautifully. A well dressed young man asks politely if he may help you. Then I went to a shoe store. The place was a mess. There where shoes everywhere. The clerks were sweating and running back and forth to the storeroom to get the shoes and then ringing up the sales. The shoe salesmen at the messy store were making really good money.

The cost of doing high volume sales was a frantic pace, running around and a messy store. The rewards were the large paycheck.

The Proverbs give us nuggets of practical wisdom. Proverbs 1:1 says Solomon wrote proverbs and 1 Kins 4:29-34 tells us he wrote 3,000 of them.

If there are no cattle in the stall it is clean. This has something to say to us as individuals it can speak to a church or ministry too.

In those days the ox was like their tractor. They plowed their field with their ox. They even took their produce to market with their ox and cart. But unlike the tractor the ox produced manure. Solomon is a king. He is a wide king with a lot of experiences, but he probably didn’t shovel manure or clean up many oxen stalls.

I picture this proverb developing with some farmer shoveling manure from the ox. The farmer hates this work and grumbles the whole time. He comes in the house still grumbling and his wife adds, dear if we didn’t have the ox we couldn’t make a living. Be thankful that there is manure to shovel. The Solomon perfected the wisdom of the farmer’s wife writing it down under the inspiration of God and we have it in our Bible now.

Some of the greatest blessings in life result in disorder and a mess. When I open my Bible to the book of Revelation there is scribbling all over a couple of pages. I need to thank God for that scribble. Now I show people and tell them this is some of the most helpful commentary notes on Revelation.

And for that matter we need to thank God for smelly diapers, increased doctor bills, sleepless nights and all sorts of messes. With a child some disorder and messiness comes into your life.

This is a proverb overflowing with practical wisdom. The more you involve yourself with people the more your life is cluttered and messy. But that mess is evidence of that blessing.

This Proverb is against slothfulness and laziness. When you have an ox you have manure and a harvest. No ox in the barn the stable is clean and no harvest.

In the church meeting there was a tear and smudge marks on the new vinyl wall covering. It is the result of having teenagers around no doubt. When there are more babies the nursery classes have to be moved around. There is more mess in the nursery. Children will eventually make an outburst in the worship service. The results of a growing and thriving church ministry is a mess. There is Sunday school, vacation Bible school, weddings and all of these church ministries cause cleanup work.

Think of the alternative to the mess. No children or teenagers in the church. Less ministry demands and exhausting meetings. There would be more order and less mess for sure. It would be a declining and dying church.

The farmer needs to remember his livelihood depends on that ox mess and all. The church exists for people. An orderly church with no real ministry can be like an empty cathedral which is cold, lifeless and sterile. Our church exists for our people.

Yes there needs to be order. But as you move out of the church walls and meet the vast spiritual and physical needs of broken humanity it does get messy when God is blessing. If the farmer gets rid of the ox the mess is gone, but so is his livelihood.

If we stopped the entire ministry that caused a mess we wouldn’t be meeting the needs God has called us to. The increase comes by the strength of the ox. Some disturbance is the price of growth and spiritual life.

A prime example of this is the church revival meeting. We pray and ask God to bring revival but you can be sure if God blesses with revival it turns orderliness upside down. Predictability goes out the window when God is moving. I was in a church and a one week revival meeting turned into a seven week meeting with real revival. There was loads of laundry undone, sleep was lost, lawns unmoved shelves undusted. The people were not cleaning out their garage. They were writing letters of confession.

But to have God work in your life is worth more than all the orderliness you can ever achieve. It will not be cleanliness is next to godliness. It will be more like messiness is next to true spiritual revival. When God comes in your life you die to your plans.

Increase comes by the strength of the ox. When disorder is a result of God’s activity celebrate it. Open your heart and don’t be afraid to let God work in your life.



  1. Brad,
    Thank you for this message. It came at the right time. Very well written and helpful.

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