Suggested Bible Reading
I Samuel 17: 32-35 (NIV)
David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.
David shepherded with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. Psalm 78:72 (NIV)
While reading about David, I wondered what would motivate a young shepherd boy to risk his life for a sheep. If I were David, I’d have no desire to face physical combat with a lion or bear just to rescue a lamb. I would prefer to return home to my father with a few missing sheep and accept the consequence of no dinner rather than becoming someone’s dinner.
What makes my perspective different than David’s? Why does he risk his life while I’d protect mine? Because he was treasured by God, his life had significance, value, and purpose and so did his (God’s) sheep. David responded to his sheep as God responded to him; lovingly, courageously, and protectively.
When relational conflicts arise, good shepherds do not avoid conflict or dismiss people. It’s natural to withdraw from people or from situations that consume time and energy, but it may not be right. When we chose the comfort of avoidance, over the cost of engagement; neglect becomes a silent relational killer. Anger and bitterness become devouring lions snatching away relationships.
David’s aggressive protection of the sheep alerts me to the danger of devaluing people. When I value other people, I don’t allow difference of opinion to result in negativity, judgment, or disrespectful behavior. Yes, it’s natural to associate with those whose thinking and values are similar to my own, but inviting conversations to understand why others have different thoughts builds a bridge of understanding. This prevents me from living on a distant island away from others.
We all have the responsibility to shepherd relationships in our lives. When we shepherd lovingly, courageously, and protectively as our Heavenly Father shepherds us; relational enemies are defeated.
Father, help me to lovingly, courageously, and protectively shepherd relationships.
Thought for the Day
How does God’s love influence how you live?