Sheep and Goats
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Why does Scripture always use the goat and sheep comparison? What is it about goats and sheep that we can glean from by looking at these two groups of animals? We all know that we want to land on the side of the sheep, right? So what is it about goats that they are cast in such a negative light and sheep are what we are to emulate? Goats are funny, cute and very precarious – and sheep are well, let’s face it – dumb and boring.
Well, let’s examine it a bit further. Think about it – goats are also headstrong, they are devious and contrary and tend to rush headlong into something without much fore thought. Goats never seem to be content – they are constantly on the look out for an escape route, a choice flower or leaf – and they are experts at climbing over fences and will never cease to aggravate any situation. Goats will eat anything and everything, while sheep are more cautious and will avoid things of no value. Come to think about it….those characteristics sound a bit like you and me! Many of us are headstrong and are always looking for that choice bit of knowledge that will set us above and beyond the rest of the body. All of those traits may seem cute when one is just a baby, but it’s just plain nasty in an old goat.
Because of all the independent traits in goats, they do not make good followers, mainly because they like to lead or venture off by themselves. The ‘pack’ instinct (which actually protects the flock) is found in many species, but is not very strong in goats. Even farmers and meat packers know of this and take advantage of it. Many have trained an ‘old goat’ which they call a ‘Judas’ goat to lead sheep to pens for slaughter. So they will lead the body of sheep down a treacherous path where all but the goat ends up in peril.
On the other hand, sheep are excellent followers once they know their Shepherd voice and will trust Him as they move along peacefully according to his directions. Sheep will stay together where there is safety and protection within the flock, depending on their Shepherd to lead them in the choice pastures. It’s not that goats are inherently evil, it is simply some of their traits, if applied to believers, are detrimental to spiritual growth. If one must always do their own thing, or is constantly taking over situations, maybe they have trouble functioning within a group or constantly seeks recognition or praise … well, these are characteristics of a goat. Let’s face it … we all start out as kids (a name for a baby goat) and those ‘kids’ are cute when little, but adults with those same qualities are obnoxious. So, maybe it’s time to examine ourselves and honestly evaluate what characteristics we cling to and showcase to others…..are you a goat following after your own instincts – or do you follow the Master’s Voice?
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