Wednesday, December 22, 2021
It is an unfortunate tendency of human nature to become self-sufficient. The accomplishment of goals leads to pride in our own abilities. The accrual of resources leads to dependence upon those resources. The pursuit of social status becomes the means of measuring success and personal value. We are never quite satisfied with the essentials and we tend to live by faith in self rather than faith in God.
In the Christmas story, the shepherds were different than that. Their profession was religiously despised in their culture. Because of their constant contact with the animals they were not allowed to participate in any religious activities and were certainly never allowed inside the temple to worship. They were forced to live in the fields with their flocks, never owning their own homes or achieving an acceptable level of social status. Such conditions would cause most of us to develop a new life plan or hire a new life coach. We would look intently and lustfully at the greener grass on the next pasture, and it would not be for the benefit of the sheep.
But these shepherds were different than that. They had not only accepted their position in society, but they worshiped God where they were. They had some good examples from their culture’s past to follow: Moses spent 40 years tending sheep before he was called by God in a burning bush to lead Israel out of Egypt. David was a shepherd boy who had a heart for God and accepted his position, yet Psalms 78:70 – 72 says,God chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens;from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. These shepherds lived the greatest faith anyone can ever live – God-sufficiency. God saw their humble state and He honored them with the first and only public announcement of the birth of Jesus. Humility is the prerequisite of honor.
Luke 2:8 – 12 8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
But we must be careful, because honor can destroy humility. Honor can become the means we use to set new goals and seek new status. But these shepherds were different than that. After they had gone and seen the King and worshipped Him in person, the Scriptures say that they returned to their flocks and carried on where they were. We never hear of them again. There was no attempt to use their personal experience to advance their personal status in any way.
That will be true of all who are sincerely humble, no matter how they have been honored. Why? Because the truly humble understand that it’s all about Jesus and His glory, and not about us. Jesus honored the humility of the shepherds 32 years later when He spoke these words: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
One day Jesus will honor all of us. Be careful of trying to honor self. Jesus also said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” The shepherds were humble. They did nothing to get noticed. God found them and honored their humility.
He will find you!