|Volume 19 Number 11 November 2017||
Gary C. Hampton
Jesus is the greatest leader ever to walk the earth. He demonstrated the characteristics that will help each of us lead others to a heavenly home.
First, the Lord seeks the lost. The shepherds of Israel had failed to seek the Lord’s sheep (Ezekiel 34:6-10). The Lord said, “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day” (Ezekiel 34:11-12).
Second, the Lord feeds His sheep. It does no good to find sheep and then let them starve to death. The Lord, unlike the shepherds of Israel, planned to feed the sheep in a good pasture (Ezekiel 34:2-3, 13-14).
Third, the Lord gives His sheep rest (Ezekiel 34:15). He breaks the captor’s bands (Ezekiel 34:27).
Fourth, the Lord helps the injured and sick, unlike the shepherds of Israel (Ezekiel 34:23-24). We need to strive to aid brethren who are spiritually hurting (Galatians 6:1-2; James 5:19-20).
Fifth, the Lord keeps His sheep safe. “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods” (Ezekiel 34:25).
Finally, the Lord lovingly leads His sheep (Ezekiel 34:28-31). David wrote of him, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:2-3).
We owe it to the people following us to imitate the Lord in all of these characteristics. Doing so will make it much more likely that they, and we, will have a home in Heaven.
Whom Shall We Please?
Here is an old fable that has been passed down for generations. An elderly man was traveling with a boy and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind them. The town folk said the old man was foolish for not riding. So, to please them, he climbed on the animal’s back. When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk, while he enjoyed the ride. So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal’s back, continuing on his way.
In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk. They suggested that both the old man and child ride. So, the man climbed on the donkey with the boy and they set off again. In the fourth village, the town folk were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey. After all, he was being made to carry two people! The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road.
The story is amusing, but its point is important. We can’t please everyone, and if we try, we end up carrying a heavy burden. Others may offer us well-meaning advice, and some of it is valuable. However, if we try to do everything others suggest, we can easily become frustrated and confused. Jesus Himself said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” (Luke 6:26). To please everyone means we will have to compromise ourselves and our principles somewhere along the way.
The one we must please above all others is Christ. We do that by obeying God’s Word. Paul encourages us to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). This was a principle Paul himself practiced, and he knew the implications of it. “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
To put God first and to seek His will for our lives enables us to have clear priorities. To please Christ by obeying His will allows us to know who we are and how we should live. Judge all advice by God’s will and determine to practice it above all else. This may not please everyone, but it will please our Lord, and in the end, this is what matters most.