Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 5 May 2017
Page 3

The Role of a Shepherd

Gary C. HamptonPeter wrote to Christians scattered abroad urging them to live godly lives despite the persecution they were enduring. They were to be aided in this through the work of men selected to serve in the various churches as shepherds watching out for the flock. He said:

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. (1 Peter 5:1-4)

The writer to the Hebrews seemed to be speaking in regard to the same group of men when he instructed, “Remember those who rule over you who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct” (13:7). A few verses later, he also stated, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (13:17).

The combination of these verses makes it clear that shepherds lead (the real meaning of the word “rule”) by example. Their faith and eternal destination ought to be evident in the way they live. Further, they have the great responsibility of watching out for the spiritual wellbeing of each member of the flock. The gravity of their task should not make us envious but prayerful for them. After all, they are prayerfully thinking about each of us with but one goal in mind for us all—heaven. Pray for the men who serve in this important office.

Straying Sheep but
a Faithful Shepherd

Robert Johnson

Robert JohnsonA bit out of the ordinary, but even in modern times, it can still happen. A shepherd in Spain fell asleep, and his flock of sheep numbering 1,300 decided to see the sites of the city Huesca without him. The large flock was running around, trying to navigate the streets, causing a huge commotion. The shepherd was supposed to be guiding the sheep past the city to the nearby hills where the animals could graze during the warm summer months. Police found the herder—who was still dozing—and with his help were able to move the sheep away from the city.

The video that accompanied the story was somewhat amusing as the sheep stayed together, but they wandered in a circular fashion around the town’s traffic circle, all the while the bells around their necks were ringing. They obviously had no clue as to where they were, where they were going or where they needed to be. It reminded me of Peter’s statement in 1 Peter 2:25 of how we are like sheep continually straying. On our own, we may like to think we are competent to make our own decisions and navigate life as we think best, but how often does God look on us and see sheep wandering aimlessly, headed in the wrong direction, unable to figure out where to be? Through the prophet Isaiah, who spoke of the coming Christ, He said, “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus observed the multitudes and reflected, “When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

Without our Shepherd, we are prone to wander off into sin and have to suffer its consequences, making us lost and disheartened. We see desires gratified but needs going unfulfilled. Christ, however, is the Good Shepherd who makes a difference in our lives, in where we go and how we live. “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).

Satan is a thief who desires to kill and to destroy. If we do not follow Jesus, then we are following Satan, and we will have to contend with the consequences of the life he offers us to live, having no hope, no promise and no future. We will go around in circles like the sheep in Spain whose shepherd was asleep and unavailable to offer protection, direction and to fulfill their needs. Jesus gives us the best life today and eternally. “Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).

The image of sheep wandering in town without a clue as to what is happening to them may be amusing, but realizing that without Christ directing our lives we are spiritually like those sheep, is not funny. Allowing Jesus to be Lord of our lives, to be the caring Shepherd that He is and to lovingly direct our paths in life, is the best decision we can make. Do you truly allow Jesus to shepherd your life? “For the Lamb who is at the center of the throne will shepherd them; He will guide them to springs of living waters, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).

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