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Becoming a Shepherd

By Watchman | January 10, 2011

But when He [Jesus] saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”  (Matthew 9:36-38)

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  (Luke 19:10)

     Much of my life I’ve heard friends, TV personalities and even psychological experts express the belief that “You can never love others until you learn to love yourself.”  There may well be some validity in that, but I’d like to introduce a slight variation: You can never learn to love yourself or others properly until you learn to love God.  Yes, people of all religious beliefs or of no religious beliefs at all feel love.  I am not trying to claim that only Christians and Jews can love other people; I am, however, of the opinion that until we can see other people (and indeed, ourselves) through the eyes of our Father God, we cannot love in the way God intends us to.

     Some years back, I was in the middle of my prayer time when the voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, “I want you to pray now for the murderers, the child molesters, the rapists,  for the adulterers, the terrorists–for the lost.”  I am ashamed to admit this, but my first impulse was one of complete revulsion.  I did not want to pray for these monsters.  If someone had to pray for them, it shouldn’t have to be me.  I had watched with a broken heart the news broadcasts of the finding of children’s dead bodies and felt a small part of the grief and horror their parents must have felt.   I had watched with anger and loathing the women and children in the Palestinian communities dancing in the streets and passing out candy because Islamic terrorists had flown airplanes into the Twin Towers in New York City on the suicide/murder mission of 9/11.  I had witnessed the devastation wrought in families by the adulterous tendencies of one spouse or the other.   Pray for these people?  How could I, unless it was for their destruction?   Then that same Holy Spirit of God gave me the reason:  “I came to seek and save the lost.”

     I’ve written in earliers posts that the heart of God can be grieved.  Although my “old self” was crucified on Calvary’s cross along with my Savior Jesus, I  still sin and grieve the heart of God through my still-very-human and rebellious nature.   Most of us, even those of us who truly love the Lord, do.  Heaven rejoices with us when we repent of our sins and embrace the love of Jesus; when we ask for His daily guidance and for help in changing our characters until we become more like the men and women He created us to be.  If we pray for those who have so embraced evil, doesn’t that mean that we are willing to accept the evil?  I think not.  Jesus looked upon the sinners of His day “with compassion for them, because they were…like sheep without a shepherd.”  While Jesus is eternally the Good Shepherd, He calls all of us who love Him to be shepherds to the lost sheep.  We can only do that when we begin to see others through the eyes of God.  Just as He grieves for us when we sin, He grieves for those who have rejected His offer of a new life in Him and turned instead into agents of destruction:  destruction of people, of innocence, of families, of true and godly love. 

     God is able to separate the sinner from the sin.  One He loves; the other He loathes.  There is no one person whom God has created that He does not love.  This doesn’t mean that they will spend their eternity with Him.  He has said over and over in the Scriptures that He will not allow evil and sin into His presence in the eternity of heaven.  He gives every person the choice to accept His love and forgiveness; it is forced on no one.  But that choice to love Him will be open until the moment of death–and we are called upon to pray for all of those who prefer the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Light.  We must love the unloveable, regardless of the enormity of their sins, in order to reflect the heart of the living God.  If we accept or excuse their sin, we are being at best very poor shepherds.  If we show them only anger and hatred, we are not looking at them as God does. Jesus calls us to be laborers in His harvest:  this includes praying for and ministering to those we find revolting, because God sees them as His lost sheep and mourns for them.  Can we truly say we love God but refuse to try to love those whom He also loves?   This kind of love requires personal self-discipline and practice.  Since we do not yet share completely in the nature of Christ, loving our enemies does not come naturally.  However, as we have noted before, love is a choice we make.  This is true whether it be love of God or family or country or friends or spouses.    We also have to choose to love our enemies.  It is the rare person who can love all others immediately when he or she comes to the Lord and is born again.  The love of the persons who commit evil deeds or pursue ways of life that are totally contradictory to how we know the Lord wants us to live comes only from the careful and constant training the heart.  God does not ask us NOT to be angry when children are harmed or terrorists blow up innocent victims–I’m sure He expects us to be if we have any human feeling at all, but He does ask us to also pray that their hearts will be changed and cleansed; that they will repent and be saved. 

     The world is a very volatile place right now.  Tensions are rising all over the world over land and ideologies and finances.  It is easy indeed to find someone to hate.  I still experience moments of anger toward the Islamic fanatics who have forever destroyed our feelings of security in our nation; I still periodically have reactions towards certain murderers of “Just shoot him and do us all a favor”; and I still have the odd stab of rage towards those who would denigrate my God by imposing the will of a sinful people over His will.  Then He reminds me that He came to seek and save the lost.   I cannot love myself or others as I should until I understand love as God intended it to be.  I must follow His lead and try to be a shepherd, for the wicked kingdoms of the earth will come to an end, but His kingdom will last forever.    Praise be to God!


Topics: Kingdom Living | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Becoming a Shepherd”

  1. Susan Says:
    January 10th, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    You, my dearest Melissa, never cease to amaze me with your Christ-likeness. Through your words many things become crystal clear for such as I. I say this because it’s very evident that the Holy Spirit does speak though you as you are writing the things He has laid upon your beautiful heart to address.

    What a wonderful honor it has been to make your acquaintance through the worldwideweb..Thank you for being my friend. I love you…I love the love of God that shines through you…there is no candle hidden underneath the table in you…Your Light, the love of our Lord and Savior, shines brightly for all to see. 🙂

    I so look forward to the soon coming Day when Jesus calls us to come Home. That Day when at last we will meet one another face-to-face, in our brand new bodies “in the air” Until then…may He continue to bless you and thereby bless others through you.

    Maranantha indeed girlie-friend!

  2. Shirley Says:
    January 10th, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Right on time, Watchman! This is a reminder to me that we are told it is easy to love the “lovable”. When we pray for people who seem to be absolutely evil, we must start with words from the mouth, allowing them to work their way into our hearts. God knows our hearts. We know (and God knows) we do not mean most of the words, when we commence praying in these situations. If we are willing to continue in prayer for the “unlovable”; asking God to help us with His love, we will find that we do mean what we are praying. We do want salvation for them, as the Good Shepherd does. That is to say that no one will be lost, but all come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your timely, anointed words.