Week 18: Care for Your Brothers and Sisters in Christ
You may have observed that sheep
and shepherds formed an integral part of the biblical landscape. Because sheep
and shepherds actually dotted the physical landscape of the lands of the Bible,
they often became a figure of speech to illustrate a point and/or clarify a
The Bible tells us that before
Jesus went back to heaven, he spoke to Peter, one of his closest disciples.
Three times, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” Each
time, Peter answered in the affirmative. Each time, the Lord would either tell
him to feed his lamb, tend his sheep, or feed them.
Jesus often compared Himself to a
shepherd. As was recorded in the gospel of John, Jesus said, “I am the good
shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep” (Jn
10:11). Time and again, Jesus saw Himself as a shepherd. For example, the Bible
tells us that, one day, when Jesus saw a great multitude milling about, he was
“moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a
shepherd (Mk 6:34). Then, when his death was imminent, Jesus quoted Scripture
written about five hundred years earlier to reflect that when a shepherd is
struck, his sheep will be scattered (Mk 14:27; Zech 13;7).
Still, no good shepherd leaves his
sheep unattended for long; neither will he not make
provisions for them if he had to leave them for a while. Such was the
case when Jesus had accomplished his earthly mission and was due to return to
heaven, where he must remain until it was time for him to come back for his
flock (Jn 14:1-3). But sheep, by their very nature,
depend on a good shepherd for their well-being. Who could fill that void when
Jesus had to leave? Who would lead the flock out to pasture and shield them
from thieves and robbers? Who would return them to the safety of the pen and,
if need be, lay down his life for the flock?
Jesus picked Peter. It is true
that Peter did, at a time of weakness, denied Jesus (Lk
22:54-62). But Jesus had known that would happen. That’s why he prayed for Peter’s
faith to prevail (Lk 22:32). And as you will discover
in Acts, and I and II Peter, this apostle did live up to Jesus’ expectations.
But what bearing does this
teaching have on our own discipleship today? How can we become like good
shepherds who will bring the sheep out to pasture? If we are like shepherds,
who is our flock? Will we have the courage to walk ahead of our flock to shield
them from thieves and robbers? Or would we run away in the face of danger? In
this lesson, we shall study what all this means to you
in the family of Christ.
Some Basic Principles
Do It with God’s Love.
When you care for your brothers-
and sisters-in-Christ, you need to love God and have God’s love abide in you
(Ps 8:4; Jn 15:9-13; -17; 1 Jn ). Without love, all the
sacrifices you put into teaching, encouraging, and ministering becomes
meaningless (1 Cor 13:1-13).
From Unselfish Motives.
(Acts 20:33-35; 1 Pet 5:2). God
freely redeemed you with his blood so you could become part of the church body,
so you shouldn’t expect anything in return when you care for other members.
Give up your selfish desires and
comforts—for the sake of carrying out your pastoral ministry (Jn ).
Fully surrendering to God’s will is vital to the success of your pastoral
ministry and God’s abidance with your work.
Show the Way to God.
When you teach or pastor other
members, show them the way to God (Acts ).
People easily get turned off to a self-serving message, because people can
often see through the façades put forth by self-serving people. People want to
seek and see God, not you. Your duty as a pastor is to humbly show the way to
Jesus Christ, like John the Baptist who said, “[Jesus] must increase, but I
must decrease” (Jn 1:23; 3:30).
Be Willing and Eager.
“Shepherd the flock of God,”
Peter told the elders, “... willingly ... and eagerly (1 Pet 5:2). Peter was
with Jesus for three years and saw what it was to serve willingly and eagerly.
For instance, one day, a leper came to Jesus and begged our Lord to heal him.
He said, “If you are willing, You can make me clean.”
The Bible tells us that our Lord didn’t have to think twice. Jesus was filled
with compassion for the man. He reached out his hand and touched the leper,
saying “I am willing; be cleansed” (Mk -42).
Draw From Your Own Experience.
When you were a young lamb in the
faith, who was your shepherd and how did he or she care for you? Was he a
brother-in-Christ who introduced you to Jesus and showed you by his example how
to get to know Jesus a little better every day? Today, could you do something
similar? Could you perhaps make time to be your lamb’s prayer-buddy after
Sabbath services or meet him for a weekly Bible study over coffee? Or was she a
sister-in-Christ who, at a critical time in your life, showed you by her
example that when you trust and obey God, your faith grows? Today, could you do
the same for someone who is struggling with life’s difficult issues.
Could you perhaps make time to fast and pray with her and give some practical
Begin at Home.
If you are a parent, your
children would be your flock. You have provided them with basic needs like
food, clothing, and shelter since the day they were born. But it is God’s will
that parents attend to their children’s spiritual needs as well. We see this as
early as in the first book of the Bible when God said that he wanted Abraham to
teach his children to do what was right and just (Gen 18:19). We see this again
when God commanded Moses to tell the parents under his charge to teach their
children about God’s commandments from the time they woke up until the time
they went to bed each day (Deut 6:4-7). The apostle Paul also told parents of
the early church to raise their children “in the training and admonition of the
Lord” (Eph 6:4). And when you begin at home, don’t forget that as in the days
of Genesis, the Lord means for you to include other people in your “household”
as well (Gen 18:19).
Know God’s Word.
The source of nourishment for
God’s flock is his word. God’s word gives life and revives the soul (Jn 6:63; Ps 19:7). It is the basis of all pastoral work.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2Tim ). For those who are in
suffering, we need to lift them up with God’s promises. For those who are
drifting away from the truth, we need to show them the correct path according
to the teachings of the Bible. Therefore, in order to effectively encourage and
counsel others, we must be well-versed in the Scriptures and have a solid
understanding of God’s word.
Teach by Example.
Peter was careful to tell the
elders to be “examples to the flock” (1 Pet 5:3) and not lord it over them.
Peter understood that elders must make a conscientious effort to do more than
tell believers what they must do and what they must not do. Rather, he wanted
the elders to remember that their behavior affected the believers in a negative
or positive manner. What choices, for instance, would the elders make when they
were confronted with matters of right and wrong? Would they give in to the
pressures of society at large? Or would they stand by an unpopular decision
because it was what Jesus would have done? Peter knew from experience that it
was one thing for a man to profess undying love for Jesus but it was another
thing for a man to actually die for the love of Christ.
Intercede for Those You Care for.
Intercessory prayer has a twofold
benefit in pastoral work. First, you edify and strengthen the member you’re
interceding for. Second, the one you intercede for can in turn edify and
strengthen others (Lk ). There’s a beneficial “snowball effect” to
effective intercessory prayer. Jesus’ prayer for Peter is a perfect testimony (Lk ).
Whom have you led to Christ? Remember your work does not end with the person’s
baptism. It is true that you no longer have to persuade the person to believe
in Jesus. However, you do want the person to, as Paul counseled the believers
at Philippi, to continue to work out their
salvation with fear and trembling (Phil )
so their whole spirit, soul, and body may be kept blameless at the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ (1Thess ).
Do Your Best. God provides for you to minister and
While you have to realize God
gives the increase and effect to your pastoral ministry, the building up of the
church doesn’t happen spontaneously. God works through his disciples, so you
need to actively engage the opportunities God has left open for you to minister.
The apostles often counseled the believers through letters. If the need arises,
could you counsel the person or persons you brought to Christ in this manner?
Could you keep in touch with them over the telephone or via e-mail if you are
online? Could you get together for breakfast, lunch or dinner on a regular
basis or every once in a while?
Be Firm and Gentle.
Sheep by nature get lost easily.
They need a lot of guidance. That is why sometimes the shepherd has to use his
staff to bring back the straying ones. But sheep also startle easily and
scatter on impulse. Sometimes, they get lost in the commotion and may be lost
forever. In the same way, we need to stand firm on the truth in order to guide
others on the right course. Paul’s attitude toward the church had always been
firm but gentle. Paul considered himself a father to the believers who firmly
guided them in the truth (1Co -15).
But he also compared himself to a mother, saying, “we
were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children”
(1Thess 2:7). It is with this firm but gentle attitude that we care for our
brothers and sisters in Christ.
Pray for Knowledge and Understanding.
We learn from the Old Testament
that God’s sheep often wandered away. But the Lord said there would come a time
when they would stop straying and return to the pen. He promised he would give
them shepherds after his own heart, who would feed them with knowledge and
understanding (Jer ). To be good shepherds, we need to feed God’s flock
with knowledge and understanding. But where can we find such knowledge and
understanding? We need to turn to the Chief Shepherd—Jesus Christ. It is the
Lord who ultimately cares for and feeds his sheep. If we learn to always depend
on him, he will give us the wisdom and ability to carry out our responsibility.
Write down other guidelines that
have worked for you.
Write down new ideas that could
work for you.
Memorize Lk 22:32 and
write it down.
In order to care effectively, we must be like
_________ who said, “And I lay down My life for the
sheep” (Jn ).
We should not care for others if we have to
suffer and make sacrifices. T/F
Being a shepherd to the flock is a way to look
good and effectively make a political run for the church council. T/F
Having a heart to care for one another is
important for having a strong and unified church. T/F
Intercessory prayer is a very effective way to
care for the brothers- and sisters-in-Christ. T/F
Jesus was a shepherd who led by example. What
did he do? How can you shepherd by example?
Memorize 2Tim 4:2 and write it down.
When we entrust our brothers- and
sisters-in-Christ to the Lord, we can care for them more effectively. T/F.
Read Acts -38.
You may already be a shepherd to a sheep or even an entire flock. What have you
learned from Paul that could help you become a better shepherd?
has believed in Christ for about one full year now. One day, Julie, another
believer, confided that she was on the verge of accepting her boyfriend’s
marriage proposal. Because Julie has been a believer all her life, Tina was
surprised. Nevertheless, she gathered enough courage to suggest that Julie
reconsider her marriage plans altogether, or consider it only after her fiance shared her beliefs. Now, it was Julie’s turn to be
surprised. “You know, I thought you were going to help me” screamed Julie. Tina
thought to herself, I didn’t make this one up. I know it’s some where in the
Bible. For the next several weeks, Tina and Julie avoided each other at church.
Before long, Julie decides to stay away from church. Think about and discuss
the problem in this situation. What do you think is the best way to resolve
this type of situation? Have you ever found yourself pastoring
in a similar situation?
You’ve known Tom since high school. He was one
of those boys who hung out at the neighborhood park as soon as the last bell
rang. It was rumored that Tom and his pals were into drugs and alcohol. Like
most students, you steered clear of Tom and his pals. Before long, the word on
campus was that Tom had been expelled. Along with everyone else, you sighed
with relief. But somehow, you bumped into Tom on the first day of college. “I’m
clean now,” he swore. “I’m here to get my life back on track.”
You seized the opportunity to convert Tom, and you were not disappointed. When
you invited him to join your Bible study group, he said yes. When you asked him
to come to church, he said yes. When you asked him to receive water baptism, he
said yes. But last week, when Tom failed to show up for Bible study or for
church services, you went to his apartment to see if he had fallen ill. There
you found him in a drunken stupor in the midst of a rowdy crowd. Enraged, you
slammed the door.
In the past week, Tom has weighed heavily on your mind. Sometimes, you found
yourself thinking that you want nothing to do with Tom – ever. Other times, you
found yourself struggling with the notion that here was a lost sheep waiting to
be carried back to the fold.
When you woke up this morning, you resolved you would call Tom as soon as you
got home from your last class. How would you prepare yourself in the meantime?
If Tom promises that he definitely is going to put his life back on track this
time around, how will you go about caring for him from now on? Use the basic
principles in this lesson to guide you.
out, on a sheet of paper, the names of at least five different church members
you want to communicate your care and concern to over a few months. You can
especially show your care and concern for those weak in the faith. Beside each
name, list out how you plan to encourage or care for that member. Remember your
care and concern could be as simple as offering up an intercessory prayer for
those members who are weak in their faith. After you have accomplished all your
pastoral goals, try to gauge how effective you think your pastoral work was. Do
you think it was effective? Why or why not? Remember sometimes we don’t see the
effects of our pastoral work until much later. Do your very best to continue in
your pastoral work until you feel that there is some effect. Don’t hesitate to
expand your operations if you feel you can take on the workload. God bless your
work for him.