By Robert B. Thomas
Few men have lived the hard life as Jacob lived it. He wrestled with an angel and won the match. He spent many nights as a lone wanderer with only a stone to pillow his head. It is remarkable then, that this man, accustomed to the rough ways of the world, possessed a tenderness for the little ones of his flock.
This tenderness of Jacob for these little ones should be found in the heart of every man who is charged by the Holy Spirit to “feed the flock of God.” Numerous little ones have died from being overdriven by a thoughtless shepherd This message deals briefly with six ways to overdrive the flock.
1. INSISTING ON YOUR OPINIONS
The flock can be overdriven by condemning them for not being correct in all their opinions of Christian doctrine. It is certain that God would have everyone zealous for the truth, but not in such an overbearing way that it kills the flock. A spirit which isolates cannot possibly help the small ones grow strong in the faith.
According to Peter, the little ones should be fed on the sincere milk of the Word. Strong meat may strengthen the mature one, but it will kill the young. Tolerance for only the strong brings out the smallness in a man. The weak should be picked up, not picked on! No new child of God was ever 100 percent correct, and it is doubtful if many are even now after being a Christian for a number of years. Therefore, the man of God should not be guilty of placing such demands of absolute correctness upon new Christians. This will make them die before they have time enough to gain some strength in God.
2. USING YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AS A STANDARD
When standards of personal experiences are set up, and others are demanded to live up to them, you are overdriving the flock. The wise one will realize that God by the Holy Spirit deals with each one of His children according to his particular need. The lessons which one needed to learn when he was young in the Lord may not be needed by the next person who determines to become a child of God. No one has the right to say to another, “This is the way it happened with me, and I am sure it will happen the same way with everyone who really surrenders his life to God.” In trying to live up to the experiences and expectations of others, many a young one has been overtaxed and has fallen by the wayside.
3. DEMANDING “GREATER FAITH”
The flock has been overdriven by demanding a higher degree of faith, courage, and conviction that the young Christian has had the time to develop in his Life. The Christian life is a growing life! The church is a place for the perfecting of the saints.
If perfection were a requirement for membership in the church, many would be outside still knocking on the door, waiting for the day when they would qualify for membership.