The Authentic Shepherd
Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (John 10:1-3)
The authentic shepherd is recognised through his approach to the sheep.
It is the manner a shepherd enters into the sight of the sheep that first matters. He is proved legitimate or illegitimate by the way he nears the sheep.
The true shepherd does not come with boasting, false promises or seductions. He is first recognised by watchmen, those who can discern good from evil and truth from falsehood. They will permit a righteous shepherd to enter the sheep pen and speak to the sheep. A pretender will crawl over the wall, or climb the fence. He will scan for a back door.
Sheep will listen to a good shepherd, and will not turn their backs to his counsel. His voice will be recognised as clear and true, his teaching as pure. The sheep become willing to follow him, they will not scatter.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
The approach of the authentic shepherd is not from self-interest. It is only focussed upon the gathering, the healing, the preservation, the nurturing, the salvation and further blessings to the sheep. (See Ezekiel 34)
The gifting an authentic shepherd bears is the sacrifice of personal interest for the betterment of his flock. This is the righteousness that they quietly sow.
Shepherds are to be discerned. As their entry reveals their thinking, so their activity reveals heart. (NB. Their practises towards sacrifice, money, knowledge, outcasts and self-promotion are screaming hints as to where a shepherd's heart lies.)
Belief proves the sheep, but righteousness proves the shepherd. Honor the shepherd who seeks no reward, offers redemption but not prosperity, invites repentance but not applause, and delights in anonymity for he does not have to be first.
'The church is not for the shepherd, but for the sheep.' ~ Michael Cartwright
Today's Bonus Soul Snippet:
'Grace is not cheap. It's free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility.' ~ Brennan Manning
'I am not measured by the good I do, but by the grace I accept.' ~ Brennan Manning
ENJOY TOO: The False Shepherd, The Negligent Shepherd, When the Sheep Flee, When the Church Hurts, The Match of Cleansing, Unsettling Proposals for the Christian Church and Stirring 9 Reformed Sensibilities
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