Separating the Sheep from the GOAT?

Nathan Smith Perspective, Thought Provoking

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I have been fascinated lately by the new found use for the word GOAT.  A reference that would have one time seemed derogatory (I mean, who wants to be referred to as a farm animal?) now is a compliment meaning ‘Greatest Of All Time’.  Certain athletes, actors, artisans and any other highly successful, high profiled individual are being referred to as ‘The GOAT’.  I have no issue with paying someone a compliment or recognizing greatness.  I just find it so interesting the the term we’ve settled on to represent greatness in our society is ‘GOAT’ when you consider that one of the things the Bible tells us Jesus will do when He returns is separate the ‘sheep from the goats’.  In the Biblical narrative, the goat represents the rebellious and wicked, not the greatest.  Now, the Bible wasn’t written in English and our little acronym based  on the English word GOAT doesn’t translate to the Greek/Aramaic of the New Testament but it does make me curious on a metaphorical level.

For me, it’s similar to the fact that one of the highest profile locations in the world is a street in New York City simply known as ‘Broadway’.  Incredible performances and unbelievable talent is displayed and featured on Broadway.  If you make it to Broadway, you are among the most talented individuals in your respective field, especially in the theatrical arts. But beyond that, making it to Broadway has become a sort of representation of being successful in general (just think of the George Benson song “Broadway”).  As awesome as Broadway is and as bright as the neon lights are, it too is fascinating when you consider how much Jesus had to say about ‘the broad way leading to destruction and the narrow way leading to life’.  Are these more than convenient metaphors? I believe it is testament to the ‘gravity’ of our fallen human nature. (Click Here To Read ‘Are You Humble Enough To Appear Arrogant?’)

The Glory In Weakness

Even when we focus on the ‘good things’ we have to offer; be it our talents, intellect  or personalities, we gravitate towards something that ultimately becomes a hindrance instead of an asset to the purity of our relationship with God.  We don’t have to have that as our intention for it to easily happen.  It is such a stark reminder of what the writer of Hebrews expresses when He says, ‘without faith it is impossible to please God.’  Strengths don’t require faith in God.  Strengths are purely faith in self.  I’m good at this so I expect to do well.  I am well learned and studied in this field so I expect to use my intellect to get ahead in this certain situation.  I have more natural ability so I expect to outdo you… and on and on.  No faith required.  No faith displayed.  At least, no faith in God.  It is simply an abundance of faith in self.  And therein is the issue… the faith is in our ability to do well, or choose well or act ‘rightly’.  It is not a humble position but actually one of pure pride. And chances are, we didn’t even see it coming. (Click Here To Read Confessions of An Idealist)

So, does that mean we can’t be good at anything or we should try our best to always throttle our abilities? Surely not as that would be poor stewardship of the gifts and talents God has invested in us.  No, we should maximize the gifts and abilities God has given us but we should always do so in humility and with fear and trembling knowing that our greatest areas of temptations will come in the areas of life that we think we ‘have it together’ not in the areas that we ‘know we need God’s help.’  The world will be more than happy to celebrate us in our strengths and the crowd will certainly applaud us for putting on a good show.  And because of this it will be increasingly easy to lose sight of how hollow it has all become and how easily the floor can collapse out from under us.

The Crowd is Fickle

The crowd is never satisfied so beware when you find yourself cruising along with the crowd of popular opinion no matter what circle you’re in.  How interesting that Jesus often ministered to crowds of people but was more often than not trying to find a way to get away from them! Once, the same crowd that came to hear Him teach tried to push him off a cliff and kill Him.  The same is still true today.  We think we want the approval of the many so we perform our way to the top of the ladder only to find out it leads to a gallows and the crowd now wants to see someone hang.  We must continually be asking the Lord to reveal our pride, humble us and keep us in His perfect peace.  It is not impossible to do that in the spotlight but it takes a tremendous amount of humility and grace.  (Click Here to Read ‘The Strength You Need To Be Content’)

Remember that your talent can take you places your character can’t keep you.  Do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.  Then and only then we will be able to effectively use the many gifts and talents He’s given us to make a TRUE and LASTING impact in our world for the sake of The Kingdom.  The Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) is actually a shepherd who separates the sheep from the goats and His sheep know His voice.  Stay close and keep listening.  He will lead you well. (Click Here To Read ‘Mind The Gap’)

From The Bible

They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come.’ – Leviticus 17:7 NIV

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. – Matthew 25:31-32 NIV

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. – Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

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