“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”
This verse makes us smile every time we read it. God is saying if you want to bear much fruit for My glory, you need to know it’s going to be messy and smelly at times. Are you in?
On a farm back in the day, it was good to have an ox. They worked hard and pulled the plow through thick overgrown plots of land. Without the ox the work would have been nearly impossible. The farmer was willing to care for the ox – the feeding and the cleaning it required seemed like more work – yet, he knew the truth that there would be no harvest, no fruit without it. He was willing to literally shovel manure in order to have an ox to help him do what he knew he couldn’t do alone.
How many couples would sign up for marriage if they had this metaphor given to them as incentive? Only those who are used to life on a farm and the benefits provided by working hard for something that matters would most likely be enthusiastic.
Sure we can have a clean house, but cold conversation as husband and wife. We can choose to avoid conflict by ignoring sin issues and stuffing disappointments. We can purpose to ignore all the hot topics in order to maintain “the peace”. But peace isn’t simply an absence of conflict. It is a deep abiding confidence that all is well between you and your spouse on all fronts. If you consciously know of subjects to avoid – you are lacking peace. Ken Sande, author of The Peacemaker, calls this type of person a “peace faker.”
Marriage is hard work. It isn’t the rosey, romantic, happily-ever-after life we had hoped for. No.
It’s better to deal with sin and disappointments as they happen. It’s better to not let the sun go down on your anger. It’s better to pull the weeds today and not let them go to seed. Ignoring the weeds only multiplies them. Ignoring conflict does the same thing.
What topics have you been avoiding? If you are afraid to bring them up, then ask for help. Go for counseling. Talk to your pastor. Don’t let another day go by where the health of your relationship is sacrificed for a false sense of peace. If all isn’t well in the marriage, then do something about it. God is able to accomplish more than we ever imagined, but we must be obedient to His Word:
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” – Romans 12:18
This includes your spouse.
How have you been a “peacefaker” in your marriage? How has God helped you become a true “peacemaker” instead?
For more on this important topic we encourage you to read Ken Sande’s book, The Peacemaker.