Before my husband and I were married, we had gone to a county fair together. At the fair there was a petting zoo with goats. I walked up to the goats exclaiming, “Awe, look at all the cute sheep!” My husband and his buddy laughed. “Those are some nice looking sheep. Only they are not sheep. They’re goats.”
Living in the country we often drive by goats and my husband will comment on all the “cute looking sheep” just to tease me.
Now, I can’t imagine not knowing the difference between goats and sheep (or hay and straw). They are very similar in appearance, but very different in their behavior.
I find it fascinating that the Bible compares goats and sheep as though God made them look similar on purpose in order to demonstrate this point:
In the end, when Jesus returns He is going to separate the sheep from the goats – those who have truly put their faith in Jesus and those who have not.
Matthew 25:31-46 says this,
31 “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. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
In the movie “Tortured for Christ” I heard a very powerful message. “There are two types of Christians. Those that believe and those that equally believe that they believe.”
C.S. Lewis says it like this, “Every poet and musician and artist (and fill in the blank), but for Grace, is drawn away from the love of the thing he tells, to the love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all, but only in what they say about Him.”
There are many people out there that look like Christians. They go to church. They pray. They read their Bibles. They serve. They may fight for the right to life. They could argue with you about what the Bible says. They believe that Jesus exists. They may look just like sheep, but may in fact be goats. They are similar in appearance but be very different in behavior.
The Bible says you will know a Christian by their love. By their fruit you will know them.
2 Cor. 13:5 says, “Examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith…”
Could you be playing the part of a sheep, when in fact you are a goat? If you’re not sure, read the book of 1st John. Is your life defined by love? Ask God to reveal to you if you have true faith. Ask him to test you. Do it in this life before it’s too late.
And when Jesus returns, may you not hear “Away from me. I never knew you,” but instead be found in Christ and hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”