Today’s reading is Proverbs 14:1-18.
This week the carpeting on the second floor of the education building was installed. Our building is, after many years, finally complete. Check it out on Sunday; it looks really good up there!
Here’s the thing: we could leave it looking pristine if we never used that floor again. With no shoes walking on it, with no people dropping stuff on it that might snag it, it could look perfect for years to come. But we did not build this building or finish that floor to be a work of art. We did it to have a useful space. When you use a building, it gets dirty and it becomes damaged. There is nothing malicious about that; it is just how things are. Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty....” A farmer could reduce his workload and keep his stables looking perfect if he had no animals but without the animals, he wouldn’t be able to work his fields efficiently.
My nature is to like things neat and clean. I like it when things are put away, straightened up, and spotless. But to get stuff done, you have to put things to use. Messes will be made and, sometimes, things get damaged. While there is wisdom in being careful to avoid damage and minimize a mess, the most important thing is to be productive. As a church, we own a building in order to teach God’s word, disciple and help people grow in godliness. Children are brought to us by their parents for instruction and we have rooms set aside for that to happen. While we want to be good managers and caretakers of what God has given us, we never want to avoid ministry just because it uses resources and leaves a mess behind. Hallways that are filled with children and adults are circumstantial evidence of God’s work in our church. Let’s be glad that we have to clean up some messes at times; it means that there are people here we can serve for the glory of God.