Cyrano de Bergerac
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows (Psalm 23:5).”
Funny how some things stick with you, isn’t it? They say a sermon is no good if you aren’t still thinking about it on Tuesday. I remember very few sermons as a kid, but I do recall one about sheep.
Our pastor had some experience with sheep. He said they were dumb, so dumb in fact that if the lead ram with the bell was on one side of a bush, the sheep on the opposite side didn’t know enough to go around it to follow him back to the safety of the pen!
Shepherds aren’t much in vogue these days, but they once were very much so as we see in the Bible, and how they are likened to leading the Church, God’s flock. A good shepherd, however, does much more than teach memorable sermons on Sunday.
“All we like sheep have gone astray….”
To gain an appreciation of our Chief Shepherd, and also your local Shepherd, I’d encourage you to read “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by W. Phillip Keller. Here’s a snippet from his chapter on Psalm 23:5 about how a shepherd’s oily care makes a difference with biting insects, flies that lay eggs in their nostrils, and other aggravating parasites:
“What an incredible transformation this would make among the sheep. Once the oil had been applied to the sheep’s head there was an immediate change in behavior. Gone was the aggravation, gone the frenzy, gone the irritability and the restlessness. Instead, the sheep would start to feed quietly again, then soon lie down in peaceful contentment.”
“The Good Shepherd lays down His life….”
Did you know that October is set aside as Pastor Appreciation month by some churches? Most of them forget all about it. The Shepherd is foolishly taken for granted. Like the oil-anointed sheep in this passage, most Christians go on about their day without any consideration for their important pastoral care that leads to “peaceful contentment.”
I’d like to encourage you to not be that sheep, and show some appreciation for your pastor this month. As Hebrews 10:24 says, “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,” think about what would encourage him; perhaps a compliment, offering to serve his family, letting him know you’re praying for him every day this week, or a small gift that shows you care. Whatever it is, make it matter.
So please take some time to obey 1 Thessalonians 5:11 as it relates to the man who cares for your spiritual needs. Don’t be that dumb sheep. Step around the bush, and show some gratitude for a very hard and oily job…so you don’t have to endure wriggling larvae in your nose. And yeah, I hope that image sticks with you.