Luke 15:3-7; Ezekiel 34:11-16
If you had one-hundred $1 bills and one of them somehow got lost, you probably wouldn’t sweat it. I mean, you’d still have $99! There would still be so much money leftover that you’d hardly notice the one percent that you lost. Who cares about one measly dollar, right? You wouldn’t spend your time searching for the missing bill - it would seem like too much effort for too little of a reward. You’d probably consider it better to enjoy the ninety-nine and forget about the one.
But Jesus spoke of a totally different perspective about that one percent. He talked about how a shepherd with a flock of 100 will leave ninety-nine just to find one sheep that has strayed. A shepherd spends his days caring for, raising, correcting, and training his flock. The wellbeing of his sheep is what he lives for. He develops a unique, individual relationship with each member, and values them all highly. Losing one would hurt just as much as losing them all in the shepherd’s eyes.
It may seem radical and somewhat foolish for a shepherd to leave the majority to bring back one sheep that was careless enough to wander away from the safety of its home. But the shepherd knows that within the sheepfold, the rest are kept hidden from harm, whereas the lost sheep faces great danger outside the borders. To the shepherd, it’s worthwhile to seek out the one sheep because he loves it too much to let it be hurt or to let it stay lost.
God is our shepherd; we are His sheep. It’s understandable that the Lord would show mercy to sinners who seek forgiveness. But He goes far beyond that. God who goes out of His way to tenderly search out every lost soul who has left the truth in order to try to bring them back to where they belong, and then He joyfully forgives them - He rejoices with ALL OF HEAVEN over the return of just ONE person! What a incredible, loving God!
We often take the easier route and reach for what is convenient. We have convinced ourselves that missing a small percent is insignificant as long as we still have the large percent with us. We tend to prefer to rejoice over what we have managed to retain instead of doing all that we can to seek out that which is lost. We like to think that we have attained a level of success for keeping 99% safe, and eventually forget about the 1% that has left because we don’t like to dwell on our losses. And we don’t particularly like putting in effort without the guarantee of a victorious ending.
But oh, that we would have a heart for people like our Savior does! And He’s not satisfied with anything than less than 100%. He’s always reaching for us, always calling out to us. He will chase after one in the darkness and reach for them to try to bring them back into the safety of His perfect love for as long as it takes - without a guarantee of us returning to Him. There’s nothing He wouldn’t do for his sheep, and no lengths He wouldn’t go to to see just one l ost soul find salvation again.
Can we say we have the same love for the lost? Can we say that we are truly putting all our effort into reaching for the one percent - no matter how long or inconvenient of a task it may be? How can you be more like a shepherd today?
Pray: “God, I’m so thankful for the ninety-nine that have stayed true to Your Word. But today I pray for the one that is lost. Touch their hearts and remind them of where they belong. And Lord, give me a burden for those who have strayed away from Your truth. Give me a deep love for them, and an unshakable desire do whatever I can to guide them home. Help me to never be satisfied without the one percent.”