An old farmer ploughed his land using an ox and a mule to pull the plough. These two, who worked together very hard, formed a strong friendship. The ox said to the mule, “We’ve toiled many days in plowing the land and the farmer has not given us sufficient rest. Let’s play sick that the farmer may care a little and give a little rest.”
The mule replied, “No. How can we play sick while the season is short and the days are few? The farmer cares for us all year long, and gives us all our needs. Let us work diligently so that we may finish our work and the farmer may be happy.”
The ox then said, “You’re a fool. You can work hard and the farmer will abuse you, but I’ll act sick.”
When the ox played sick, the farmer brought him fresh hay and corn, cared for him and left him to rest. The mule returned tired from plowing, as he had pulled the plough on his own. The ox asked him, “How did you do?”
The mule answered, “The work was hard, but the day passed in peace.”
Then the ox asked, “Did the farmer say anything of me?”
To which the mule replied, “No.”
In the morning, the ox continued to play sick, thinking that he had succeeded in his plan to live in leisure - eating, drinking and sleeping without working. At the end of the day the mule came in exhausted. As for the previous day, the ox asked the mule about his day and the mule answered, “It was a very exhausting day, for I tried to exert more effort to compensate for your absence.”
The ox rejoiced greatly and ridiculed the mule because he refused to play sick along with him.
The ox then asked the mule, “Did the farmer say anything to you about me?”
The mule replied, “He said nothing to me because he was too busy talking to the butcher.” At this the ox became agitated as he realized that the farmer would slaughter him the next day because he was no longer useful.
Many times we believe that our rest is in laziness and idleness,
So we act sick and create excuses for ourselves,
Not realizing that we are preparing ourselves for slaughter.
Many times we indulge in bodily lusts,
Believing that in this we have rest and profit,
But moments come when we realize that we slaughter ourselves.
Let us work and struggle,
So that we may live, and overcome and be crowned.
(12) Green, Michael P. Illustrations for Biblical Preaching. Baker Book House. 71.
Giving up a Tablecloth
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