He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters….(Psalm 23:1)
Is it possible to love God’s word, teaching it before others, but not love people? Sadly, this seems to be the case. Sometimes we hold fast to the word of God with legalistic motives and intentions and forget that God’s word, first and foremost, compels us to love God and others. Therefore, the greatest action step I can take as a Christian is not to serve as a policeman, keeping people out, but instead, like a shepherd who leads people in. Guiding them, by mercy into a safe place to learn and grow.
You see, the process of shepherding people is a slow one. It means we must be willing to walk alongside them as they graze upon the beauty of the Lord. Have you ever seen a sheep? They’re ugly. I mean, really ugly, but each shepherd treats them with great value. A good shepherd feeds the sheep and allows them the time and space to grow. A shepherd who fears the ugly, messy lives of their sheep will instead turn themselves into a guard at the door, making sure they fit their list of what is good for their liking.
Yes, a good shepherd protects his sheep from outsiders seeking to hurt the other sheep. This takes true wisdom to know who is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and who is a hurting individual in need of respite.
But you see, all of us, not just church leaders and pastors are called to be shepherds, those who love others into God’s sheepfold. Sometimes, we get so anxious that people aren’t growing at the rate we want them to that we push them out of the sheepfold and into the furnace where they are made to believe that if they don’t change quickly, they cannot continue on in the shepherd’s field.
One of the most caring things I can do for someone is remind them that God loves sinners. Yes, let me say that again. He has a great love for those who have failed. Those who don’t always get it right and those who understand their need for mercy. There is no life to dirty for God’s sheepfold. Truly, He longs to feed your soul and care for you there as you grow, change and heal, in Jesus name.
Lord, you love people. I want to love people too. Forgive me for how I have neglected to feed and care for your people because I have my own agenda. Forgive me for not loving people as you would. Forgive me for acting not as a shepherd, but as a policeman. Help me to lead people into your mercy. I long to be like you, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.