My wife Ruth and I farmed sheep for a number of years, and those sheep taught us many valuable lessons. Farmers are noted for being a diversified group of people, and some seem to be of the opinion that there is nothing that they cannot master and accomplish.
Sheep wool needs to be sheared annually, and in good animal husbandry, it is most practical to do this job prior to the ewes giving birth to their lambs. We had hired a professional shearer to come and shear our flock, but I thought that it would be cheaper if I bought a set of clippers and did my own shearing. This sounded like a good idea because I had lots of time and sheep are docile animals, so I thought that there should not be much trouble in accomplishing this task.
What seemed to be an easy feat for the professional turned out to be a disaster for both our poor sheep and for me. A sheep's skin is very thin, much like ours, and it cuts very easily if it is not kept taut while using the clippers. I kept nicking and taking little strips of skin with the wool. While doing this, a verse became very real to me:
Isaiah 53:7b – As a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (NIV 2011)
Those dear sheep never made a sound during all the torture that I put them through. We hired the professional to finish the job.
This verse brought to mind the story of our Lord when He appeared before Pilate and was interrogated and accused.
Mark 15:3-5 – The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, "Aren't you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of." But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. (NIV 2011)
As we go through life, we will face circumstances in which we do not have control, just as our sheep did. At those times, it is usually better if we do not open our mouths. We should especially never let our ego become the subject of discussion.
Before Pilate, the Lord Jesus set us a good example. He knew that the Sanhedrin had already made up its mind, so He did not enter into a discussion with them, but rather let them have their way. For us, sometimes, using utmost discretion, it is better to remain silent like the sheep, because it is generally useless to rise to our own defence. Yet there is a time when we should be ready to speak:
1 Peter 3:15 – But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (NIV 2011)
Prayer: Lord, we pray that we might be like the sheep and know when to be quiet in the face of conflict. However, may we also have a gentle spirit to present Christ as Lord and Saviour so that everyone will accept Him. Amen.
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