“He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3)
Different kinds of pastures are needed to graze horses, sheep, goats, and cattle. Horses graze by nipping grass with their upper and lower front teeth and chewing. Sheep and goats graze in a similar way. But cattle only have teeth on their lower jaw and use their tongue and teeth in combination. As a result, they need pastures with taller grass so they can wrap their tongue around it and rip it up.
If left alone without proper supervision by a shepherd, sheep can nip grass in a pasture down to the very roots. The pasture would eventually become a barren field and the grass unable to revive. It is the shepherd’s responsibility to move his flock from one pasture to another so as to avoid overgrazing.
Sheep are not only are timid, restless, and stupid, but they are cantankerous and stubborn. Sheep cannot be driven, they must be led and guided by someone they know and trust.
Is it a mere whim that God refers to us as sheep? Scripture points out that Israel was a stiff-necked, stubborn people. The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold they are a stiff-necked people.” (Ex. 32:9) We tend to follow our own fancies and turn to our own ways. “All we like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way…” (Is. 53:6a)
What changes do I need to make in 2017 to show that I am being guided by the Good Shepherd into paths of righteousness?
1. Instead of insisting on my rights, I will forego them in favor of others. 2. Instead of being “top ram,” I’m willing to be at the bottom of the heap. 3. Instead of finding fault and always asking “Why?” I am willing to accept every circumstance of life with an attitude of gratitude. 4. Instead of choosing my own way, I’m willing to follow in Christ’s way.
What this boils down to is straight forward obedience. It means doing what Christ asks me to do. Jesus said it in the garden, “Not my will, but Yours be done.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me in 2017 to follow Your will and not my own.