When sheep eat too much

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--Here's an interesting tidbit about sheep for all of us non-rancher types: Sheep don't know when to quit eating. At least this is true when it comes to grain.

According to the website www.sheep101.info -- a site for students, teachers, 4-H and FFA members -- grain is like candy to sheep. They love it and could literally eat themselves to death.

Now I know what you're thinking: Just another example of how stupid sheep are. To the contrary, sheep aren't stupid. The same website reported on hungry sheep in Britain who learned to cross an eight-foot wide, hoof-proof, cattle guard so they could raid a villager's gardens. The sheep figured out they only needed to lie down and roll over repeatedly until they were clear of the guard. When they were clear of the guard, the feast was on.

Food is a big deal to sheep. They just have a hard time knowing when to quit eating the "good stuff." God didn't design them to digest too much grain at one time.

I should have studied more about sheep when I was a pastor. Then I would have understood why human sheep like to eat so much of the "good stuff." They are only doing what comes naturally.

The problem with over-consumption in sheep is they develop the "bloat" and it will kill them. A good shepherd must be on guard for over-consumption and lead the sheep into the fields to work off the "good stuff."

As Christians, we could learn from sheep. I'm certainly not opposed to the study of the Word of God, however there is a strange disconnect when someone is full of knowledge but never applies what they learn, nor gives that information away.

They become bloated sheep in danger of dying.

How is it that someone can know so much about Jesus but never share that information with a lost person? Is it biblically correct to know so much about the Scriptures but never convey that knowledge to other people?

Biblical Christianity is not an academic exercise; it is living faith or faith living through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Paul reminds Christians to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose" (Philippians 2:12-13). This passage is about being deeply concerned with living out or "working out" your faith so a lost world can see the change Jesus has made in your life. Salvation is not about a hidden knowledge, but a life of action as a witness to an unbelieving generation.

James teaches believers about a life of serving the Savior through the actions you take. He states that the proof of his belief is the life he lives. He said, "Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works" (James 2:18).

The lesson is two-fold. Sheep, don't become angry when your shepherd takes away the grain and leads you into the fields. Likewise, shepherds don't create unhealthy sheep; a proper balance of food and "field work" is the basis for a healthy, biblical faith.


Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention's evangelism & church growth team.