Beware the Hired Help

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I have an old framed picture left over from my parents’ day that depicts the old English countryside. Coming up the path in front of a thatched-roofed cottage is a shepherd with a flock of sheep. Contrary to popular notion, the shepherd is walking in front of the flock. He isn’t driving them from behind, he is leading from the front.

As I read Matthew 4 this morning, I looked closely at verses 18 to 22 which detail the calling of the first disciples. Jesus encounters a group of fishermen working along the shores of Lake Galilee. He says to them: “‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people” (vs. 19). The next verse tells us that they immediately left what they were doing to follow Jesus. This process is repeated with another pair of fishermen just a little while later.

A good shepherd leads. A good disciple follows. Obedience is immediate.

In John 10, the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep is described in great detail. We are told that the sheep follow their shepherd because they recognize his voice. They won’t follow a stranger. They will run away if they don’t recognize the voice of their Master. The good shepherd looks after his sheep even to laying down his life to protect them. The hired help are not committed to caring for the sheep and will not put themselves at risk to protect the sheep. Sheep may be stupid in many things, but they know who their shepherd is and they will follow him and no one else.

Many people will try to drive us. Some may even try to lead. Unless we intimately know the voice of our Good Shepherd we could get distracted and follow the wrong voices or allow ourselves to be driven into dangerous places.

Once again we are reminded from this passage in Matthew that spending time in prayer and the meditation of the Word of the God helps us to recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd as we grow in intimacy with Him. Then, when the “hired help” call us to follow or try to drive us where we shouldn’t go, we will know them for who they are and scatter. We will recognize the Lord’s voice when He calls and follow Him immediately, knowing that He will take us into green pastures and provide for us those still waters and healing touches that only a Good Shepherd can provide.

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