A CONSUMER’S ATTITUDE OR A SHEPHERD’S HEART?
I confess that I am a consumer…not a shepherd. I like wool sweaters, and I like lamb chops, so I tend to think that sheep are here for the purpose of being sheared and eaten.
But wait a minute! Doesn’t God call us the sheep of His pasture? What does that mean for us? Does it mean that God looks at us the way I look at sheep?
Fortunately, God does not view us with the attitude of a consumer, but with the heart of a Shepherd.
In the book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Philip Keller describes someone he knew who cared little for the sheep under his supervision:
“The tenant sheepman on the farm next to my first ranch was the most indifferent manager I had ever met. He was not concerned about the condition of his sheep. His land was neglected. He gave little or no time to his flock, letting them pretty well forage for themselves as best they could, both summer and winter. They fell prey to dogs, cougars, and rustlers.
“Every year these poor creatures were forced to gnaw away at bare brown fields and impoverished pastures. Every winter there was a shortage of nourishing hay and wholesome grain to feed the hungry ewes. Shelter to safeguard and protect the suffering sheep from storms and blizzards was scanty and inadequate.
“They had only polluted, muddy water to drink. There had been a lack of salt and other trace minerals needed to offset their sickly pastures. In their thin weak and diseased condition these poor sheep were a pathetic sight….
“To all their distress, the heartless, selfish owner seemed utterly callous and indifferent. He simply did not care. What if his sheep did want green grass; fresh water; shade; safety or shelter from the storms? What if they did want relief from wounds, bruises, disease and parasites?
“He ignored their needs – he couldn’t care less. Why should he – they were just sheep – fit only for the slaughterhouse.” (pp. 8 & 15-16)
Fortunately God looks upon His sheep (us) with the heart of a Shepherd who lovingly cares for His sheep rather than with the attitude of a consumer. In Ezekiel 34:10, God says sharp words against “shepherds” who poorly treat His “sheep”: “I will hold them accountable for My flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue My flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.” In verse 16, God goes on to stress, “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak…. I will shepherd the flock with justice.”
What does this mean to us?
1: We are not the objects of God’s consumerism; rather we are ones whom He lovingly cares for. We can know that our lives have tremendous value to God. Knowing that we are lovingly cared for by such a good Shepherd should give us hope in all circumstances.
2: Since God cares so lovingly for each of us, we should care for one another.