PMT 2014-064b by Don Strickland
This past Sunday I was reminded of a sermon I heard while at seminary. It was preached by a friend of mine who had been an actual shepherd of sheep in Australia. He had been concerned over an air of superiority that had affected some of the students. So he preached a sermon on what it means to be a actual shepherd.
I will never forget one very vivid and detailed illustration that he gave concerning shepherding the flock. There is one type of insect that lays it eggs in the anus of a sheep. And when those eggs hatch, the larvae begin to feed upon the tender flesh in and around the anus. Infection will set in. And so the shepherd has to take his bare hands and first pluck out the worms, and then clean the wounds, which were made by the dozens of larvae, of blood, pus and fecal matter.
He then applied the illustration back to the shepherd. The sheep cannot help himself. He needs the shepherd. And the only way the shepherd can truly help is by going to the sheep and “getting his hands dirty.” There is no room for pride in doing such work properly. Love and concern for the sheep must be your motivation, otherwise you won’t be effective and the sheep will sense the coldness in your spirit and actions toward him. This is not clinical theory, but real lives being affected. People in sin and/or pain will normally not respond to aloof prescriptions. And they certainly will not submit to the often painful discipline needed to correct their situation, if the shepherd is unwilling to lovingly clean the wounds left by the “worms” in their lives.
I have helped in the past to pluck a few worms from some sheep, and helped clean their wounds. And I
have high hopes and prayers that their sanctification and service to the kingdom has been enhanced thereby. I say that not in praise of myself, but to be an encouragement to each one of us to be prepared to help your friends and family to clean their “wounds,” or at least, to point them to a faithful shepherd (ie pastor or elder) who is able to do that necessary work. Of course, the only truly faithful and perfect shepherd is Christ, and He can do the work without a human shepherd (Ezk 34.11-31). However, God many times uses means to accomplish His work–which is why the Spirit gives spiritual gifts and callings.