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July 28 – The sojourners’ shepherds

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. – 1 Peter 5:2-3

Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:1-4

Life for sojourners in exile will not always be easy. Amid trials, the easiest thing for us would be like sheep to go astray. But we have come under the care of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus. One of the ways He sees to it that we make our way through exile with hope is by the care of under-shepherds, our pastor-elders.

Peter calls the elders to the work of shepherding, not giving them a title, so much as a task to care for the sheep. They are the flock of God, chosen and precious, bought and paid for with the blood of Christ. Sometimes sheep are frustrating. Our weaknesses and their wanderings can be tiresome. But these shepherd-elders must always remember they are dealing with the flock of God.

Elders are to be among the flock, not domineering over them, but as fellow sheep. When they help us deal with our real struggles in the real world, they are not surprised. They can be both tough and tender at the same time because they know their own hearts. They can be both sympathetic and urgent because they know they have the same need for Jesus.

By God’s grace we will be blessed with a model of humility when we see Christ-like, Christ-dependent, Christ-exalting men not in it for themselves, but for the good of God’s flock. By God’s grace they do not look for the praise of men, but the affirmation of the Chief Shepherd Himself, the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Suggestions for prayer

Thank God for the blessing of elders in the church. Pray they may shepherd well, love us as God’s own flock, challenge us when we go astray and direct us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Rev. John A. Bouwers is pastor of the Hope Reformed Church (URCNA) in Brampton, ON, where he has served since December 2017. He is married to Julie and they have been blessed with six children and twelve grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.

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