God's Love for Stray Sheep

 

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Luke 15: 4-7

 

Every household should treasure the parable of the lost sheep as a guiding principle in government. Consider this parable when little children or other family members go astray. Draw them to you with love as the shepherd drew the sheep; do not push them away with condemnation. For Christ came not into this world to condemn it, for it was already condemned, but to save. (John 3:17) Quench stern disapproving looks and treat the stray sheep like our Saviour has treated us.

 

The Good Shepherd, leaving the ninety and nine, goes into the wilderness to search for the one who is lost. The shepherd knows the danger the sheep is in. Yet only a loving, kind hand can help it out of its predicament. Hearing its far away cry, He meets every obstacle to save the sheep - His sheep. Discovering the lost one, he does not greet it with disapproval or criticism, but is only glad that he has found it alive. Gently, yet firmly, he withdraws the lost from danger, tenderly places it on his shoulders, and bears it back to the security of the fold. The pure, sinless Redeemer bearing the sinful, the unclean.

 

The child whose words, actions or attitude show that he is separated from God is in need of loving, kind hands to guide in removing obstacles and return him or her to the fold. In this work, do not blame the erring; it is not our place to condemn, but to come close to the wayward one's side to lend help. Consider Christ's humility to stoop to our level, and in meekness and lowliness work for our salvation, His heart full of tenderness, love, and sympathy for us in our sinful state. “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee. ” Jeremiah 31:3 With our hearts united with Christ's we will display the same love to the erring.

 

As the Shepherd carries the wounded, dirty sheep to the fold, so precious is his burden that He rejoices in the victory. If every one of us would stop and consider that we have been carried on Jesus' shoulders there would be no self-righteous condemnation or criticizing spirit when dealing with our stray sheep. Not one of us would be in the fold had not the Good Shepherd undertaken His painstaking search for the lost. Yet the fact that only one was lost was enough to send our Shepherd on His mission of salvation. A most unfavorable journey He undertook, yet “he shall not fail nor be discouraged” (Isaiah 42:4) Remember the joy shown by the Shepherd at the recovery of the lost? He said to his neighbors, "Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost." All heaven echoes that joy. The Father Himself rejoices over the rescued one. It is our privilege to share in this joy as we draw the erring to the safety found only in Christ.

 

While on earth, Jesus did not make God's power and greatness the main theme of His teachings. Most often Jesus speaks of God as our Father, and of Himself as our Elder Brother. He desires our minds to grasp the idea that God is love. He seeks to inspire us with confidence to seek after Him. Christ came to this world to show that God is love; to show that as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear him. (Psalm 103:13) Follow the path of the Saviour from the manger to the cross, notice his unselfish life of ministry, his agony in the garden, and his death on the cross. Know that with God there is abundant forgiveness for this is the whole reason for Jesus' life on earth and death on the cross. God abhors sin, yet with a love that passes all understanding he loves the sinner. How can we who are followers of Christ act otherwise?

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