Waiting in our van until the goats clear the roadWhen the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:31-34 (NETFull)

While in route to an outreach in southern India, our van was surrounded by a large flock of sheep mixed with goats. In temperate climates, sheep often don’t grow a fleece and it’s difficult to distinguish them from goats.

“The sheep carry their tails down, the goat’s tails are up,” one of the nationals informed us, but tails were twitching both ways.

As our driver tooted the hooter and inched forward, several necks in the flock sported personal collars. It occurred to me the shepherds knew each animal, perhaps by name, and they certainly knew which ones were sheep and goats. The passengers gawking through the windows proved wholly unqualified to identify the animals.

When Jesus said he will one day separate the sheep from the goats he was comparing the short-haired middle-eastern sheep of his time to goats. The two looked so much alike that only the shepherd was qualified to identify the species.

Everyday my life intertwines with both saved sheep and dammed goats and I can’t tell them apart. And it’s not my job. I act the fool when I assume the Shepherd’s task of labeling humans and separating the blessed from the cursed. It’s a full-time job sorting out my own heart and it leaves me no time for categorizing and correcting others.

My responsibility is to love everybody, no matter how goatish they seem, because who knows, the Shepherd may yet call them a sheep.

Prayer: Mighty Judge Lord Jesus, forgive me for assuming your job.

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