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The Sheep and the Goats

“31 When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory:

32 And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”

Matthew 25:31-34

We all know we want to be sheep,

But How do we know the difference?

Well, at first it seems pretty simple. They look very different. Tell me, which one is the sheep?

But it isn’t really as simple as it seems. Which one is the sheep now?

(The sheep comes first in both sets)

So what is the difference?

Sheep and goats eat different diets.

Sheep eat grass and a few select herbs.

Goats will nibble on grass and herbs and weeds and trees and paper.

I recently read a story to my children about a goat that was very ill. She was obviously dying. When the vet examined her, he discovered the problem was she had eaten her owner's underwear! (He was able to successfully treat her)

Spiritual sheep graze on the pure word of God and a few select books, websites and sermons. They are very careful to take in those things that will enhance their understanding of God, not interfere with it.

"Goats" will "eat" any ole thing.

Goat horns are sharp and pointed.

It takes two "horn" genes to produce horns, but a goat that doesn’t have at least one gene will die. This means that at least half of all goats have horns. Owners will usually cut them off when they are babies, but the genes are there.

And those horns are dangerous.

I read about a family that went out one morning and found their goat pen full of hair and blood. They carefully examined each of their animals and didn’t find even a scratch. Whatever had come into the goat pen during the night had left a whole lot less healthy than it had come in.

Sheep horns generally curl around their heads. They can hurt, but it is very difficult for them to kill.
(Note: if you look carefully at the sheep that looks like a goat at the top of the page, he has four horns. Two curl around his head like normal, but there isn't enough space on his head for the other two to curl. This is a Jacob Sheep, which is a special breed that can come with 2-6 horns). 

Spiritual sheep can unintentionally cause damage, but seldom kill. Spiritual goats will lead others away from God and will promote doctrines that can kill.

Sheep will not try fences.

They are more likely to be content with what they have.

Goats are difficult animals to keep in. They will go under or over or through most any fence, unless of course they decide to just open the gate.

Spiritual goats are always trying the boundaries; always trying to see how close to the edge they can get. They are not content with the boundaries placed by God in their lives.

The biggest difference between sheep and goats, however...

... is how they mother.

Goats have many babies (2-5) at a time. They leave them for long periods of time coming back only to nurse a couple of times a day.

Sheep have 1-3 babies at a time. They keep their babies by their side at all times, nursing them frequently.

A momma goat will fight a predator, and if she has horns may just win.

But if it comes to a choice between her baby and her own life, she will run away; abandon her kids.

A momma sheep isn’t much of a threat to any predator, but she will stand and fight to the death to protect her baby.

Human mommies should care for their own babies like sheep. God designed us to have 1-2 babies and to nurse frequently, like sheep, so that we have to be with our children.

Our babies need us. It is not natural to treat them like goats and run off doing our own thing while the babysitter raises them.

But that isn’t my point today.

We should be spiritual sheep when caring for our spiritual lambs.
We should “mother” our new converts like sheep.
We should become a part of their lives, helping them to learn to “eat” the pure Word of God.
We need to teach them the dangers of “eating” the wrong things and trying the boundaries.
We should defend them from Satan to the death.

How does this look? Jesus tells us:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?”

They didn’t even remember ministering to Jesus. 

“40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
When we feed someone, cloth someone, fix their skinned knee, change their dirty diaper, it is counted to us in heaven as if we did it for Jesus Himself.

That changes the whole perspective of caring for our babies, doesn’t it?

“41 Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, "Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?"

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, "Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.


Now there are some bad things about sheep.  

They are ridiculously stubborn, stupid and curious, a deadly combination to be sure. And in a mixed herd, they will follow the goats to places the goat can handle fine but the clumsier sheep can’t.

They will also eat the same things they see the goats eat, though it will kill the sheep.

Is it any wonder God often compared us to sheep?