Feed My Sheep

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The Holy Spirit has been frequently whispering one three-word phrase to me, over and over again, that being, “Feed my sheep.”  Hence, I’ve decided to commit to blogging once a week on an on-going basis with devotions to feed His flock, in the faith.  This blog will be dedicated to the message God lays on my heart to lift you up, as believers in Christ.  I’m starting off this blog by addressing a more serious matter that is near to my heart right now, betrayal.  I wonder if any of you have experienced betrayal?  If so, when someone who you love betrays your trust, do you remain loyal to the friendship, marriage, or family member?  I want to encourage anyone right now that has experienced the pain of being cut to the heart by the blade of betrayal; that God feels your pain.  “Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her.  All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.” (Lamentations 1:2)

How does the Bible address this poignant topic, and how should we deal with this issue as a Christian?  In the Bible, there are several examples of betrayal, starting with the first family in Genesis, when Cain betrayed his brother Abel, by leading him out to a field, with the sole intent to kill him.  You may also remember the well-known story of Sampson and Delilah found in Judges 16:18-20:  “When Delilah realized that he had told her his secret, she sent for the Philistine tyrants, telling them, “Come quickly—this time he’s told me the truth.” They came, bringing the bribe money.  When she got him to sleep, his head on her lap, she motioned to a man to cut off the seven braids of his hair. Immediately he began to grow weak. His strength drained from him.  Then she said, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” He woke up, thinking, “I’ll go out, like always, and shake free.” He didn’t realize that God had abandoned him.”  This is an example of the kind of betrayal done deliberately in order to hurt or harm someone, by his wife, no less.  Let’s look further. 

In the New Testament, in John 18, we see two kinds of betrayal.  First, we see an outright betrayal leading to death by Judas, who had just led the soldiers and Jewish leaders to the place where he knew Jesus would be, in the olive grove where he was arrested.  Judas had deserted Jesus and his fellow disciples, and blatantly sold him out, to his death–the ultimate betrayal. (v. 1-8).  In contrast, we learn of the somewhat concealed betrayal by Peter who was just outside the courtyard where Jesus was being tried.  Someone recognized Peter as one of the disciples, as he was warming his hands by the fire.  Then, the pivotal moment comes when Peter denies knowing Jesus three times, and is scorned by the fulfilled prophecy signified by the crow of a rooster (v. 25-27).  This betrayal was in the form of fear by association of what might happen if he was recognized as a Christ-follower.

Have you ever experienced betrayal by those you love, because of blatant disloyalty, a disconnected relationship, or their fear of being found out?  Or, maybe you have betrayed someone’s trust unknowingly yourself.  Merriam Webster defines betrayal as hurting someone who trusts you by not giving help or by doing something morally wrong.  So before we throw each other under the bus on this one, let’s see what God has to say about it.  In Proverbs 25:9 it says, “In the heat of an argument, don’t betray confidences; Word is sure to get around, and no one will trust you.”    Maybe we embellish our life stories just a little to impress others, make empty promises, or we talk about the annoyances of people when they’re not around.  Did I strike a chord here?  Well if not, how about this one.  Revelation 2:4, “ Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first.”  What? not that verse.  Am I stepping on anyone’s toes yet?  God says, in Psalm 89:33, “but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.” NIV.  When we forsake, deny, or disengage, from those we love, it is an act of betrayal.  When, we approve of this world by the activities we engage in, misplace our priorities, or live in denial of who we are in Christ, we are pulling ourselves away from God.  

Remember, after the resurrection, when Jesus said to Peter, “If you love me, feed my sheep!”  Isn’t it just like God, our Shepherd to bring those He loves back to the fold.    When Peter heard His precious Savior say this phrase to him three times, it definitely resonated with him.  Let’s allow Jesus’ words to resonate with us too.  If someone in your life has betrayed you, cheated, lied, or done worse, have compassion for them.  By choosing to love the unlovable people God has placed around you, you are building a trust that will hopefully restore your relationship, and bring them back to God.  If you have been the betrayer, then remember God forgives you,  and He cannot betray His faithfulness to you, if you confess your sin and return to Him.

A final challenge and word of encouragement:  Eliminate the tendency to betray the trust of others.  Be transparent with everyone as much as possible.  And finally, if you love God, then be a comfort to the unlovable people, who may just feel betrayed by life’s heavy blows.  (II Cor. 1:3-4) –Go ahead, “Feed [His] sheep!”

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