Read: “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds,” (Proverbs 27:23, NLT).
Think About It: Tears could be seen welling up in his eyes that had seen much hurt, pain, and disappointment in his “up-to-that-point” young life. The tears he fought back in his eyes less than mirrored the tears in the “I’m not holding them back” eyes of a woman whose time-weathered face beamed with love for this young man. A woman with a number of years to match the great size of her heart, she had noticed him at her church for several weeks. He helped out when he could, but he never made a point to be much of a “stand-out.” However, week after week had gone by, and this older woman who had learned to trust God many years before, was compelled to approach this twenty-something and embrace him. With a look of firmness in her eyes, yet with gentleness all wrapped in sincerity and humility, she told him: “You just need to know Jesus loves you.” Her words were few, but her impact was immeasurable. Though he tried to exist as one unnoticed, she was determined that the love of God, shown with sincerity by those who claim to follow God, was exactly what he needed to see and hear. She trusted herself to Jesus, and obeyed His calling for her to know the condition of the people around her.
Going Deeper: Although this proverb has direct connotations for pastors and agricultural shepherds, its application applies to any who live within the context of relationships God calls you to a responsibility of excellence in all that you do. No less is this call concerning the family, whether at home or in the church. To “know the condition” is literally rendered in the Hebrew to know the “face.” This means to look beyond the face; to open your eyes and see beneath the masks; to know the emotions, countenance, or the state of mind. As a shepherd must know the condition and well-being of the sheep in his flock, you are called to “know” each other deeply and intimately. God gives those that follow Him the divinely inspired responsibility for taking care of one another. Churches can be found most anywhere that are housed by many people. There can be untold multitudes, yet one person could still feel alone. Who “knows” them? If they fall, who is around to pick them up? Before they fall, who is there to come alongside them to warn them, teach them, or to encourage them towards a different path? When the eyes of those who love Jesus are wide-open and looking, He will reveal the greatest needs to them, and will reveal His greatest response through you.
Next Step: Quick. Take out something to write with and write on. Think of the church you go to, or a place you are at with great consistency and regularity. Write down the names of those who sit beside you, in front of you, and behind you. How well do you know them? What’s going on in their world? Ask God to show you the responsibility you have in being a part of their lives. Take aim at the responsibility to care about the lives of others, and see how God will reveal his love through you. It’s love like that that changes lives and restores the sincere credibility to those who dare say, “I follow Jesus.”