Perhaps this is most famous passage in Proverbs 14, known as an apologetic against the worldy wisdom of man:
12 "There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death."
I know this scripture has come to mind for me many times as I attempt to solve my problems in my own strength or to preempt God's Providence by acting before waiting on Him. Being driven by my purposes, rather than living the purposes of God is an ever-present temptation. And there have been many occasions where this particular scripture has been a guide and companion.
Sunday, during our pastor's sermon on Proverb 14, however, Verse 4 jumped off the page for me. I don't think I've ever heard this or read it - ever.
Verse 4: "Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."
In other words, too much of a focus on keeping the manger clean, can keep us from producing an abundant harvest. The church and its mission is messy. We should keep more of a farming/harvesting mindset than a curator's mindset. If we focus too much on making sure the museum ornaments, such as the manger, remain unblemished, then we are merely like musuem curators. However, if we become farmers - sowing, planting, watering, tilling.. well, we're probably going to get some manure on our hands and feet. And we shouldn't be surprised if the manger is getting used. Besides, that's why we have the manger, right?
I thought that was pretty amazing. I'm sure someone somewhere has written a book on it. (I'll have to get back with ya on it though.)