Editorial Keynotes

Are you interested in the secret of happy, healthy, active, wool-bearing sheep? Feed thy sheep.

L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

Paul’s solemn charge to the elders at Miletus, to which they were earnestly ad­monished to "take heed," was to "feed the flock of God," "which He hath purchased with His own blood." This inescapable charge is of universal and timeless application, and em­braces every Seventh-day Adventist minister in its sweep. Paul presses upon us this sober­ing responsibility—feeding of "the word of His grace, which is able to build you up." And the imperative character of God's expectation is attested by the fact that Peter was similarly constrained to repeat the principle to the early elders, when he wrote, "Feed the flock of God which is among you."

The reason set forth was the fact that the Chief Shepherd is coming, who will require an accounting at His appearing. Peter adds that the newborn babes in the faith must have "the sincere milk of the word," in order to grow thereby. Little wonder that this was Peter's burden, for Christ, the Chief Shepherd, while on earth had expressly charged Peter to feed both Christ's lambs and His sheep. And the fidelity of this feeding was made the test of the genuineness of Peter's love for Christ. Paul further declares to the Corinthians, "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat {solid food] : for hitherto ye were not able to bear it." There was to be adaptation to the need. This milk Paul defines as the "first principles of the or­acles of God," thus agreeing with Peter. In plain, unmistakable language Paul repeats "be­fore God, and the Lord Jesus Christ," the charge to the ministry to "preach the word."

There are altogether too many hungry, ema­ciated sheep in God's fold. Many are hungry, alas, because they are too often fed with husks instead of nourishing food. What is the devi­talized chaff to the wheat ? Hungry, under­nourished sheep are bound to be restive and discontented. Such are prone to stray away from the fold in search of the food they crave. They fall an easy prey to disease and to ma­rauders. Nor can they produce good wool in abundance. We are never to forget that when the Chief Shepherd appears, He will say to us, "Where is the flock . . . , thy beautiful flock ?" What shall we be able then to say ?

Brother shepherd, just what are you feeding your flock? Are you displaying some newly found learning, intriguing to you but valueless as food to your flock? Are you pouring forth the content of some new book, interesting to you as shepherd, but virtually profitless to your sheep? Are you feeding your flock largely on theory, propaganda, statistics, quotations, prob­lems, or dry and dusty sermons from the notes of yesteryear ? Are you feeding them on moral essays, philosophical disquisitions, or argumentative dogma? If so, small wonder that you have disturbing losses on your record book. Little wonder that they -slip away, seeking to find something elsewhere that will satisfy the craving of the soul. God holds you accountable for proper feeding of the flock.

Are you interested in the secret of happy, healthy, active, wool-bearing sheep? Here it is: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoic­ing of mine heart." There is a limitless supply of perfect food in the garner of God's Word. It is inexhaustible. It meets every need and every condition of the human heart. But we must un­derstand and apply the principle of balanced, healthful feeding. It is all too easy to give a one-sided, erratic, defective dietary that will neither maintain health and strength nor foster normal growth. People can most assuredly starve at our hands. Regularity, balance, and adaptability must govern our selection of nour­ishment, and the times and seasons should like­wise come into our reckoning.

A preacher should ever be studying person­ally far in advance of his flock. He should be prepared for every emergency that may arise. He should have the answer to a thousand prob­lems and contingencies. He should himself know the answers to a multitude of questions, which he should not, however, raise with his flock. There are innumerable things that he should know personally that he cannot properly preach about publicly. The flock would not be prepared for such items. It does not need them, and could not absorb them if given. We must use sanctified common sense and discernment in the food we feed to our flocks. We must truly feed them. Here is scope for skill and wisdom.

L. E. F.

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L.E.F. is editor of the Ministry.

November 1947

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