Devotion - Wednesday, March 25 - Long Days and The Peaceful Fruit of Righteousness

“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” - Proverbs 14:4

Those things that are the most challenging for us to manage are often those which also yield the most for us.  Without animals, a barn is simply a structure.  You can easily sweep it clean and keep it tidy, and while you can use it for storage, it is otherwise unproductive.  However, once you add animals to it, a barn becomes a living, breathing, messy place, and things get more complicated.  Oxen are large, demanding, temperamental creatures.  They require attention and care.  They must be watered and fed, and their dwelling must be cleaned of their waste.  As it turns out, oxen are also hardy, strong creatures.  With the right amount of work, one can harness the strength of an ox to plow a field such that it produces an abundant crop.

Not many of us work with oxen these days, but the same principle applies to many aspects of our modern lives.  Take children, for instance.  They must often be fed, they require close attention, direction, and discipline, they can be loud, demanding, and temperamental, and they produce unimaginable messes (unimaginable except to the parents rearing them, that is).  To be sure, a loving home with young children in it is not always tidy, clean, or quiet.  However, dedicated love and Gospel instruction in a child “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).  Godly family relationships demonstrate a reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:21).

During our current health crisis, many of us are spending more time than ever at home, where work conditions may not be ideal or even feasible, space may feel cramped, and household tasks seem never-ending.  While we may be tempted to grow impatient with our children and others around us, let us remember that God has meaningfully created each relationship in our lives, and that our family members are a blessing to us.  With respect to your family during these long days (and all the other days), “let love be genuine” and “outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:9-10).  In so doing, you will honor the Lord and produce an “abundant crop” of righteousness.

Questions:
  1. The examples above (i.e., oxen and children) do not directly apply to everyone.  What are some examples of challenges in your life that have produced an abundance?
  2. How has God demonstrated His faithfulness to you during those times?
  3. In what ways do your close relationships demonstrate a reverence for Christ?

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