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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 46 : Feed My Sheep | Day 317

Follow the Shepherd's Example!

The parents had exercised great caution, but they had not anticipated this particular danger. Their daughter wanted to go to music school, so the parents visited the school, interviewed the teachers, and felt that it would be a safe place to send their daughter. However, what they did not realize was that her piano instructor had the personal goal of capturing this young lady's heart for his own wicked purposes.

After only six months at the school, the daughter called her parents and informed them that she would not be returning home. She had decided to stay with the piano teacher. Rather than grieving and surrendering their daughter, this couple swung into action and took every step necessary to get their daughter away from this teacher. Later, as I heard the whole story from this young lady, she expressed great appreciation for the fact that her parents had not given up on her. Those parents had the mind-set of a good shepherd, not a hireling. (See John 10:12-14.)

Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

David was the master shepherd of Israel. We see from his life that feeding sheep involves far more than just leading them to food. David rescued sheep from the mouth of both a lion and a bear and gave them reassurance and comfort when needed. (See I Samuel 17:34 and Psalm 23:4.) This is the kind of shepherding that fathers are to do for their children and elders are to do for those under their spiritual care.

Jesus, Who is our Chief Shepherd, identified three major characteristics of a good shepherd. First, the good shepherd personally knows his sheep: “... he calleth his own sheep by name ..." (John 10:3). In Bible times, a shepherd would often give names to the sheep for which he was responsible. As he took care of the sheep, the shepherd would become well acquainted with the unique characteristics and habits of each sheep. We should spend time with each person for whom we are responsible in order to discover his or her individual needs.

The second characteristic of a good shepherd is his leadership of the sheep: “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him ...” (John 10:4). The shepherd not only leads his sheep to rich pastures; he also examines and prepares the fields to make sure there are no poisonous plants that could harm his sheep. In the same way, we are to disciple those under our care by teaching them the words of Jesus and protecting them from wrong doctrine or harmful activities that would damage them.

Finally, a good shepherd sets aside his personal goals in order to care for the sheep: “... I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). The Lord Jesus laid down his life for us and we must be willing to lay down our lives for those He has placed under our care. This means that we must place the needs of our sheep ahead of our own plans and priorities.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Would those whom God has placed under our care say that we have fed and cared for them like a good shepherd or like a hireling? Let's purpose now to show our love for Christ by following His example of servant leadership.

“Simon ... lovest thou me more than these? ... Feed my lambs. ... Lovest thou me? ... Feed my sheep. ... Lovest thou me? ... Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard