Proverbs 14:4

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,

but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.”

Trying to write a devotional during Super Bowl is very difficult and the TV very distracting!  This verse that stood out to me as different from the advice to choose wisdom and avoid folly.  I first note that the proverb starts with “oxen.”  That is plural.  It made me think of the teamwork of the teams competing tonight.  The pass without the receiver in place was heart breaking.  The punt that went to the holder of the attempt at a field goal was off center and the win hung in the balance going into the second half.  All the talent of one man may not amount to much if the other members are not doing their part.  There were two major injuries in the first minutes and important players had to be pulled, even sent to the hospital, but others stepped in and got to play.

         One of the pictures Paul gives of Christianity is that we are like a body and we each play our part.  The body is not the eye alone or the ear alone.  We work together. 

         So perhaps the part about “the manger is empty” refers to the futility of feeding and encouraging someone who is not a team player.  Certainly there may be talent but talent or strength for selfish purposes is ultimately defeating and not worth feeding.  The strength of the ox when harnessed brings abundant harvests.

         We might reflect today on the teams that we play on.  Maybe we aren’t in the Super Bowl, being watched by lots of people, but we are each important and play a part within the circles we circulate.  The point is not to be the winner but to play our part with the strength and talent we are given. 1 Corinthians 12:22 -23 says “On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.  And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty.”  We may not be as strong as an ox but we each have a God designed role to play.  May God bless you as you play your part.  And Happy Valentine’s to the arm pits as well as the eyes!

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