Shepherds are Judged by Their Sheep
In Psalm 23, we are reminded that our Lord, our Shepherd, guides us “along the right paths for his name’s sake.” If we really blow it, and people know we are professing Christians, our good name will undoubtedly suffer—but more importantly, so will His. Maybe we don’t really care what people think of us—but if we care anything about God, we should worry just a little bit about our actions and what they are doing to His reputation! “But He isn’t doing anything—I am!” you object. The problem is once you have joined His flock, you are identified with Him, and He is identified with you. People know that you belong to the fold, and the fact is that a shepherd is judged by His sheep. If you fail, people think God has failed, and we should all care a little bit about that.
I remember standing at the gate to the entrance of Jerusalem, watching the sheep come home. One man’s flock was fat and satisfied. Another’s came trotting along, and some of those sheep were shaggy and lean. One even had an ear bitten off. I couldn’t help judging the shepherd by his scraggy sheep! In the spiritual realm, people judge the Shepherd by the sheep, too, and so we need to walk in right paths for His name’s sake.
I asked a young boy once why he didn’t go to church. “I don’t go,” he answered, “because once I sat outside the church and watched the churchgoers enter. An hour later they all came out, looking exactly the same as when they had gone in. I reckoned that what they had been listening to in there hadn’t made any difference, and there was no point in me wasting my time.” The young man was judging the Shepherd by the sheep—what a shame!
You see, God made us originally like Himself, and when the human race fell into willful disobedience, we all lost something. We lost the clear-cut lines of the original image of God’s character stamped on our spiritual features. We lost the desire to glorify Him. God wants to restore that original image in our lives. He wants us to be like Him again, and so He lends us His power to follow the right paths—and He even goes before us to show us the way. As we live “rightly,” others will see Him in our behavior, and He will be glorified.
Jill Briscoe is the Founder and Executive Editor of Just Between Us magazine and ministry.