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I was watching a man unloading beer kegs at the pub on the corner near the church. The kegs were of the fifty litre kind, which, when full, weigh in around seventy-five kilograms. And he unloaded all twenty by himself! It was his method that intrigued me. He would carefully roll the keg off the side of the truck, and drop it onto a half-sack of wheat to cushion the fall; then with the keg now rolling forward in horizontal motion, continue its momentum over the footpath and into the pub.
His efficiency reminded me of the verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes about worker smarter: “If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.” Perhaps the verse is stating the obvious, but that’s sometimes exactly what we need. An axe blunts slowly, and the effort required to use it increases almost imperceptibly, until one finally sees the injustice of more puff and less stuff.
The concept of efficiency is rarely emphasized in the Bible, for the focus the Book is more on relationships; and relationships are built on love, not efficiency. When Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, there was no mention of water conservation. And when he healed the sick, there was no hint of waiting rooms and fifteen minute appointments. But the Book does not diminish the importance of working and living with prudence and skill. And happy is the man who remembers to sharpen his axe.
DM 13th June 2017