A very Happy Chinese New Year to all our readers. The ox, thought to bring hard work and responsibility, will reign in the new year of the Chinese calendar. Of course, I do not believe in the zodiac, whether Western or Eastern, to be the controlling agent in our lives. I am just making use of the occasion to write about the ox.
2021 is a Golden Ox Year. It reminds me of the Golden Calf made by Aaron in the wilderness (Exodus 32:4). Jeroboam also made two golden calves to replace the worship of Jehovah (1 Kings 12:28, 29).
There are 6 notable characteristics of the Ox: They are:
Strength is its character. And, it uses its strength for a good cause – to serve men. It is a harvesting animal. Without the strength of the ox, there would be no harvest: “Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox” (Proverbs 14:4).
What is your strength? Are you using it to serve the Lord? Everyone has at least one skill (talent) he is good at; that’s his strength. God wants us to use our talents to serve Him. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the one-talent man was condemned because he did not use his one talent God had given him.
The ox is a hard-working animal. It puts its entire heart into everything it does. Even Solomon paid tribute to this animal when he said, “much increase is by the strength of the ox” (Proverbs 14:4). He also says: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10a).
We know Jeroboam. He was infamous for introducing calf worship into Israel. But, do you know that prior to that, he caught the attention of King Solomon for good? “And the man Jeroboam was a mighty man of valor; and Solomon saw the young man that he was industrious, and he gave him charge over all the labor of the house of Joseph” (1 Kings 11:28).
The Oxford dictionary defines “industrious” as diligent and hard-working. God wants us to be diligent in His vineyard: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The ox does not only plough the field. From the ox, we get our milk, butter, cheese, beef and even some of our sofas, wallets, and handbags are made from its skin. Not forgetting its dung makes good fertilizer. You cannot find another animal like the ox in its usefulness.
Are we useful for God’s purpose? Paul said that every Christian is to present himself as a “vessel of honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Are you fit for the Master’s use?
The ox does not boast of its strength nor its usefulness to man. It does not demand praises for the work it contributes to mankind. It is not a boastful animal.
Do we need to broadcast the things that we have done for God? Do we need to announce the many degrees and achievements whenever we introduce a preacher? What did Jesus say? “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).
5. Gentle and Peaceful
Does the ox bark? Does it roar? Unlike the birds that make a lot of noise when they are together, the ox is a quiet and peaceful beast of burden. Though it is the largest of the farm animals, it does not bully the smaller animals. It lives in harmony with the other farm animals. It minds its own business.
Our Lord says: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Christians should not be noisy and quarrelsome people. Paul commands: “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Live quietly and mind your own business.
The ox is a contented animal. Feed the ox grass and water and it will provide labour in the field, milk, butter, leather and fertilizer.
An English proverb says: “A contented mind is a perpetual feast.” It means, if you are a contented person, then you will enjoy peace of mind and happiness. Paul said, “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6). A discontented person is never satisfied and so he always complains. Thus, he is never happy.
Let us count our blessings. How else can we give thanks to God if we are not contented?
May we be like the ox in its strength, diligence, usefulness, humility, peacefulness, and contentment. Have a good and blessed year!