Today’s Readings: Psalm 88; Nehemiah 9:26-38; Matthew 18:10-20; Revelation 22:6-13
Every once in a while I stumble upon a piece of advice or a statement of life-principle that seems really good on the surface. Once I start digging into it and try applying it, however, I discover things are much more complex than I first realized.
Take today’s passage from the Gospel according to Matthew. In that larger passage, there is a short statement attributed to Jesus that reads “If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t [the person] leave the ninety-nine and go after the one?” (Matthew 18:12 from The Message).
On the surface that sounds like a wonderful statement of love and concern on behalf of One that passionately cares about each and every one of the sheep in the flock. When it comes time to live that out, however, it becomes a logistical nightmare. For instance during the course of my lifetime I have led several groups where one sheep comes along who is so focused on his/her own needs that they couldn’t care less about the rest of the 99. They consistently create situations where pursuing the one could bring into question the continued health and well-being of the 99. This is what I mean by creating a logistical nightmare.
While my heart instinctively wants to send me out after the individual sheep in each and every instance, I have come to realize that I must strike a balance between care and concern for the one and care and concern for the 99. My attempt to reach this balance is something I re-visit on a regular basis.
So how do you grow into seeking a sense of balance between the one and the 99 in your own life? Do you intuitively go after the one in every instance and let the 99 fend for themselves; or do you find ways of striking a balance between the interests and well being of both the individual sheep and the flock? Til next time…