Release them from the pen.
For Christmas a friend gave me a t-shirt with a stylized cartoon of a sheep and a goat.
Between the two animals is an old school division symbol – not the slash. Remember how your grade school math teacher told you to “make a little house?”
On this shirt, inside the division symbol, is the goat and outside the symbol is the sheep.
When my friend gave me the shirt, I must have had a confused look when I looked at her after looking at the t-shirt. She quickly said, “It’s about the verse that says He’ll separate the sheep from the goats.”
I nodded and smiled, but I had to study and think for a while before I believed I liked it.
Matthew 25:31-2 does, in fact, say “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.”
I take this to mean when Jesus returns He will keep His sheep (those who hear His voice) and discard the goats of the world (those who stubbornly refuse His ways.)
I know the t-shirt is supposed to be a conversation starter: it may invite someone to ask me what it means and open a conversation or gate that might not otherwise open. But before wearing the shirt, I needed to know that I know what the shirt says, that I believe it, and I can explain my belief.
The separating and judging is for when Jesus comes back. He will separate the sheep from the goats – that’s not my job – I’m not supposed to judge people. I already judge more than I should, I don’t need a t-shirt to invite me to do more.
But what I can do is use my discernment to separate my thoughts. I am to keep my good thoughts and discard my goat thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
So I have used the shirt as a reminder to myself to take my own thoughts captive and be obedient to Christ. If I see someone who is deceived in some way, someone who has done something wrong, I don’t think of him as a goat.
My thought of him as a goat is the goat and I take that thought captive and destroy it. I think of giving him the same grace that God gives me – even though He knows how many goat thoughts I have in a day.
You can’t remove all the need in the world today but there are lots of ways you can help. Ask God – He’ll show you your sheep and your goats.