Shepherds of the Flock

PASTOR: Shepherds of the Flock

"High and holy is the work to which God has called His ministers. As God's anointed their calling is sacred."

Secretary, Association of Self-supporting Institutions

High and holy is the work to which God has called His ministers. As God's anointed their calling is sacred.

The priests of God in Old Testament times were looked upon as holy men. Or, as I. H. Evans wrote it in The Preacher and His Preaching, page 46, "To ancient Israel God declared the priest to be a 'chief man,' and holy unto God. . . . All his life, after he had been consecrated, and anointed with the holy oil, he was to be a holy man."

God made a distinction between priests and the people, for Malachi wrote, "He is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." Mal. 2:7.

Anciently the priest stood in the position of mediator between man and God. When a man had sinned he brought his sin, or trespass, offering to the priest, who offered it up before God in his behalf.

Ministers of today are said by Paul to be shepherds of the flock. He says, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Acts 20:28.

If sheep are to prosper, produce wool and offspring, they must be diligently cared for, properly fed, and provided with water. In cold weather they must be sheltered from the wintry blasts, and when the intense summer heat causes them to suffer, they must be provided with shade.

It is certain that David understood sheep, for the shepherd's psalm, which begins with "The Lord is my shepherd," reveals that he also had a personal acquaintance with the Chief Shepherd. How wonderful it is to be able to say, "The Lord is my shepherd," and to know that it is really true! But how about our shepherding of the flock? Do we feed them? Do we lead them in quiet pastures? Do we prepare tables of the very finest of the wheat for them? Do the sheep know us to be true shepherds?

What about your flock, fellow shepherd? Is it prospering spiritually as it ought to? If not, who is to blame? Do you lay the blame on the members of the flock? Or do you find that perhaps you are at least partially to blame for the condition of the flock?

How tragic it is when a shepherd of the flock takes sides with factions in the church! Sick sheep must be cared for tenderly. Spiritually sick members need the loving care of a com passionate shepherd.

Think of Jesus in His ministry as the chief shepherd. While here on the earth He had a trying time in His work of organizing the New Testament church. Closely associated with Him were the twelve apostles, men extremely diverse in nature and characteristics. There were often divisions among them. Some were ever seeking for the highest office; they wanted recognition; they were envious of the others. But through the three and a half years of association with those men, Jesus never took sides. He never drove a wedge between them. He was conversant with their ambitions and personal desires. He was establishing His church a church that as time went on was to be composed of a large variety of members of the human family.

Christ has in His church today a called-out people. No two of us are exactly alike. We do not think alike on many issues; we do not all eat alike or dress exactly the same; we live in separate houses as families. But we all belong to the same church the body of Christ.

It is the duty of the shepherd to do all that he can to maintain harmony among the various members of the church. He must never take sides or pit one faction against another. How can the flock prosper if the shepherd endeavors to classify some of the sheep of his pasture as goats because they do not meet his expectations?

Although it is true that sin in the church must be dealt with, nevertheless in the situations that arise from time to time where groups of members enter into controversy with one another over certain issues, the pastor must be most judicious in exercising his authority. Much damage can be done to the church by ministers who injudiciously enter into factional disputes. The shepherd of the flock is not to be a disputant; he is to "feed the flock" and nourish the tender lambs most carefully.

If the shepherd fails in his obligation as a minister of God, then the Lord will eventually deprive him of his place and will raise up another who will be more faithful in the dis charge of his responsibility.

Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, God says, "And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." Jer. 3:15.

Ministers of God, you who are represented by the seven stars that Christ holds in His right hand, make full proof of your ministry, not only in the preaching of the Word and the raising o£ funds, but in the most important work of shepherding the flock. Then, when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you will receive a crown of glory, which will never fade away.

 

 


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Secretary, Association of Self-supporting Institutions

December 1952

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