He fed the sheep

If you love me, feed my sheep...

If you love me, feed my sheep…image by Sarah Perz

For a few hours one day, along with several of his closest friends, he turned away from his Lord. For a few days, he struggled with his faith…until the day His risen Lord returned and fed him on the seashore. One afternoon, he denied Christ, but for practically his entire life, he followed Him.

At another point in his life, he acted hypocritically and was rebuked for his behavior. He was a man dedicated to Jesus, but a man who sinned like any other man on earth.

Do you know Peter? He lived a life of service–he was an apostle, a preacher of the gospel, and a faithful elder (Read Acts and 1 and 2 Peter). We know by Jesus' words that he would even glorify Him by his death–which is described by both Tertullian and Origin historically as crucifixion with his head down.

Why do so many remember him primarily for his denial (for his failures) when he lived his life for His Lord? Why do we judge him primarily as an impulsive man, a weak man, a man of little faith? Think again. This was the old Peter. Peter changed. Peter grew. Peter wasn’t perfect, only Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, but Peter lived faithfully until death.

Do you remember that poignant moment on the beach (see John 21:1-19), the third time that Jesus showed Himself to His disciples? He multiplied the fishes, He fed them bread and fish, and He spoke intimately to Simon Peter.

So when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Tend my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. Now this he spake, signifying by what manner of death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (John 21:15-19)

Remember this: Peter fulfilled what His Lord asked him to do. He fed the sheep.

So, if we were to judge Peter based on a few of the New Testament examples only and ignore the other things God's word makes clear about him, we would not be judging the WHOLE fruit. We would be making an unrighteous judgment. We would be making a judgment based on only part of the story of Peter's life. We would end up slandering his name. We would be remembering him for the old man and ignoring the new man. Peter is not just the man who denied His Lord and went back to fishing. He is so much more than that. He is a man who fell and rose up again. He is a man who was forgiven much and who loved much. A just man is not a man who never sins (for Jesus Christ is the only man without sin), a just man is a man who falls and rises up every time. For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again. (Proverbs 24:16)

God is the only truly objective and righteous Judge. Yet we are clearly told to make judgments by His standards. We must seek to understand–by digging deep in God's word–exactly how it is we are to judge. Clearly, it is untrue to say that we are not to judge at all. We all make judgments every single day of our lives. Making judgments is part of discerning between right and wrong and good and evil. Calling for a blanket tolerance? Consider that when you call others judgmental that you are also judging the very ones you attempt to admonish! We are not to judge hypocritically or unjustly or by standards other than those set forth in God's word. We must make judgments in many cases in order to obey His commands. Yet, it is often how we make the judgments that render them unrighteous…

When you are making judgments about situations and people consider these things…

  • Are you discerning enough to judge by the standards God has given us? Are you a righteous judge?
  • We will be judged in the same way we judge others (Matthew 7:2)
  • Have you a beam to remove? Have you judged yourself first? (Luke 6:42)
  • Do you know the fruit by which you judge men? Do you know the WHOLE story? (Matthew 12:33)
  • Are you wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove? (Matthew 10:16)
  • Are you sure that you are casting your pearls before swine? (Matthew 7:6)
  • Are you sure it is time to shake the dust off your feet? (Matthew 10:14)

Remember that every word you speak about a man will either build up or destroy his reputation. It is within your power to build men up or tear them down. So many rough drafts, so little time. It is within your power to learn the stories of men and help them write their stories well.

When a man falls, when it seems like all is lost, when you know that you've done your part…remember that while there is breath, there is hope. Love. Serve. Never grow weary.

If we only love those who love us we are no better than the unbelievers! Remember what Luke says, "For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.” Luke 6:32-33

Consider these quotes about judgments and character:

  • Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. ~ John Wooden
  • Make no judgments where you have no compassion. ~ Author Unknown
  • A reputation for a thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single moment. ~ Ernest Bramah
  • A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was. ~ Joseph Hall
  • Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing. ~ Abraham Lincoln
  • It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. ~ Benjamin Frankl

**Thanks to Sarah Perz for creating the lovely featured image, "If you love me, feed my sheep." I'm so blessed to have such a talented daughter!

Category: Musings
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