Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We are called to be sheep so why do we sometimes behave like ostriches?

We are called to be sheep so why do we sometimes behave like ostriches?

Job 39:
13 "The ostrich flaps her wings grandly, but they are no match for the feathers of the stork.
The ostrich is not like the stork. She is prideful and arrogant as she flaps about, the sound of the ostrich is a shrill wailing. The ostrich makes such flagrant moves because she believes she looks good and wants to be seen so she makes a scene. (It was once fashionable for women to wear hats adorned with ostrich plumes.) However, the beautiful and valuable feathers of the ostrich are not equal to those of the stork.

The stork is gentle. She is not wild nor is she arrogantly strutting about creating a chaotic commotion. In contrast the stork leads a calm and serene life.

As we consider the characteristics of these two creatures we can see perhaps that differences in what carnal and godly people display in life. Perhaps one might say the stork embodies the fruit of the spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22 -26
The ostrich is an example of one living selfishly and stupidly, regarding and respecting no one. She is full of vain glory, she is provocative, and is envious and desires to be envied.

Sadly, in life many of us do envy the ostriches, those ostentatious persons, who speak too loudly, too often, too much, too coarsely, and with too little prayer. We can find ostriches in the church. Often they are talented and gifted but they are rarely beneficial to the ministry because it is so difficult to work with them. When compliments are given out they always find a way to redirect the shine on themselves, seemingly mindless that we as Christians do all to the glory of God in the name of Jesus and never in our own names.

Job 39:
14 She lays her eggs on top of the earth, letting them be warmed in the dust. 15 She doesn't worry that a foot might crush them or that wild animals might destroy them. 16 She is harsh toward her young, as if they were not her own. She is unconcerned though they die, 17 for God has deprived her of wisdom. He has given her no understanding. 18 But whenever she jumps up to run, she passes the swiftest horse with its rider.

Ostriches do not understand their responsibility to God is demonstrated by serving others. Sadly, those ostriches who do become mothers never seem to connect with their children, their careless behavior does not cease while they are pregnant and continues after they give birth.

Allowing her eggs to be warmed in the dust is the same as allowing one’s fetus to be developed in whatever carnal environment one finds oneself. She has not concern for establishing a covenant relationship and building a home in which she can warm and protect her eggs. Carefully, determining what will be allowed into the environment in which she will raise her young. No the ostrich allows the eggs to wallow about in the dust unprotected.

Ostriches do not concern themselves with the wild asses, dogs, swine, and other animals of prey that may attack her eggs. She does not consider that humans walking about hunting may be unaware that an egg is lying about and may unintentionally crush it.

Should the fragile eggs reach maturity the ostrich is detached from her young and cruel to them, she lacks maternal connection and concern. God has deprived her of wisdom. This is not because God is unloving.

Job 28:28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding.

Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Pro 9:10 The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.

Pro 15:33 The fear of the LORD [is] the instruction of wisdom; and before honour [is] humility.

God has never changed, He is available to all who seek Him. Often we see people in the church who confess Christ but who seemingly have not completed the conversion…they are hanging onto some ostrich feathers. Maybe we ourselves have some treasured ostrich feathers.

Perhaps we are guilty of a little flapping about and grandstanding when we should be meekly and obediently following. Likewise, we may be careless with the young or young in the faith in our life.

If we are not mothers, we are not excused from nurturing responsibility of the children God brings into our lives whether in our extended family, church family, community, or by circumstance.

Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us. James 1:27

We must be able to discern that the children of the ostrich are spiritual orphans. Their mothers may be visible but that does not mean she is providing a viable parental support. Moreover, we cannot allow our disdain for her choices to divert us from our responsibility from caring for the children. It may well be the children of the ostrich who lead her to Jesus. Moreover, when we allow the ostriches in the church or in the world to determine our course of action then we have allowed ourselves to be corrupted.

Amazingly, the ostrich has two known characteristics: swiftness and foolishness. There are two sayings “foolish as an ostrich” or “swift as an ostrich”. The ostrich when sensing fear does not have a fight or flight sense, she will bury her head in the sand or she will run from her problems.

Ostriches burying their heads in the sand refuse to see what everyone around them sees. Her finances are a mess and she continues shopping. She changes who the name of who she is dating but basically it is the same old character with same old problems and she cannot understand why she has relationship troubles. Her attitude is negative and she talks more than she listens which results in her having problems with roommates, friends, on the job, and even in public and she just does not receive the message she needs to make an adjustment. We have all been there and we all know some ostriches. When you catch yourself in an ostrich moment ask yourself when the last time you were in the fellowship of the saints was. Why? Because sheep are flock animals they are safe in the fold being led by the shepherd. Ostriches are proud and arrogant, mean, and can even be violent…they rarely travel in flocks, now maybe you see a few in a pack.

Ostriches running from trouble wait for no one. She will abandon children, friends, job, and church. Often she does not even seek to obtain the details to see if there is a true problem or if resolution is possible. She allows her fear to rule and she goes on the run. Someone whispers there is trouble and she pulls a disappearing act – no notice, no remorse.

Sadly, the meanness of the ostrich will allow her to try and move on without considering what or who she has abandoned. She will use any manipulation to be the innocent or the victim…rumor and innuendo is a favorite tactic.

Perhaps we have been guilty of giving in, giving out, or giving up too soon. We must remember our faith is strengthened in the congregation. It is through Bible study fellowship, personal devotional periods, prayer, and consistent commitment to God that is expressed through consistent commitment to a local congregation that we grow, serve, and worship. It is during the fellowship that we become more like sheep. We need to come together as often and regularly as possible so that develop and maintain sheep characteristics and tendencies.

Hebrews 10:21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's people, 22 let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. 23 Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.
26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received a full knowledge of the truth, there is no other sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible expectation of God's judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. 28 Anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God and have treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God's mercy to his people.

May God grant us the grace and strength to be sheep even if there ostriches in our midst. Amen.

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