Tag Archives: commitment

Slaughter the Oxen, Burn the Plow


I Kings 19:19-21

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.  Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

There was nothing wrong with what Elisha was doing before God called him to become a follower of the Prophet Elijah.  I imagine that Elisha was diligent in his work, a responsible son, obedient to his father and mother.  All good things.

And when Elijah threw his cloak over Elisha, which is symbolic of the Calling of God for ministry, he did not order Elisha to slaughter the oxen and burn the plow.  Some people would consider that to be a horribly insensitive and irresponsible thing to do.  After all, someone else might be able to use those tools.  They could be sold for a profit, or at the very least, left behind for another family member to use.  Why burn everything?

Elisha was leaving his old way of life behind.  He was not going to leave a “back door” open as a route of escape.  He was in this thing whole heartedly for better or worse.  There was no going back now.  He kissed his parents good-bye, prepared a good-bye feast for the people using his own resources, and set out to follow Elijah.

In his Evangelistic Crusades, Billy Graham used the hymn “I have decided to follow Jesus” to call people to make a decision for God.  The song says, “I have decided to follow Jesus- no turning back, no turning back.  Though none go with me, still I will follow- no turning back, no turning back.  The cross before me, the world behind me- no turning back, no turning back.”  Don’t leave an escape route open when you decide to follow Jesus.  Slaughter the oxen and burn the plow.



So my sister sent me this video last week and I wanted to share it with all of you.  I actually got breathless laughing so hard.   My husband watched it and sarcastically asked, “Why did she think to send this to US?”  Then he blurted out, “Hey!  I have a braided belt,” and I about sprayed ice tea out of my nose, laughing.

The punchline of this video is “Be Comfortable, look OK.”  It’s fine to be Average.  It’s perfectly acceptable to shoot for the middle of the bell curve.  You don’t need to “Be All That You Can Be”, if you’re content with where you’re at in life.

And isn’t that the way that most of us go about our relationship with God?  Half hearted, fair weather friends are we.  Our “Average Christian” motto would sound something like this:  Be Comfortable, act OK.  We are satisfied with shooting for mid-range good person status.  We don’t need to be saints, neither do we want to be called sinners.  And that is the philosophy of the Luke Warm Christian who feels that Average is OK.  No biggie.

Unfortunately, being Average is not OK with God.  He does not grade on a curve.  He does not average your good against your bad.  He does not compare you with your neighbor who lets his dog do his duty in your yard.  He does not measure your holiness against your brother who doesn’t manage his money well or your boss who uses cuss words in the office or your co-worker who spends his weekends bar hopping instead of going to church.  No, holiness isn’t a competition.  And Average doesn’t cut it.

The Bible says in Revelation chapter 3, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm- neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  Basically God is saying, if you are shooting for Average, you make me want to puke!  That’s harsh!!

This is a big deal to God.  We don’t try hard to gain his favor.  We try hard because we are heirs to the King and we want to “do the family proud”.  We give life our ALL because Jesus gave US his all.  Don’t be Average.