S (Scripture): John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
O (Observation): Shepherding was a regular occupation in 1st century Israel, and the practice of calling on sheep and having them respond was a common occurrence. The cool thing about the sheep is that they learn the voice of the shepherd.
Here, Jesus is saying that he is both the doorkeeper and the shepherd, protector and guide. Just as a shepherd leads the flock to the pasture, which will bring them sustenance, so too, does Jesus bring life abundantly to those who follow him and listen to him.
The only reason a thief might be present, is to steal from the flock, and to kill and destroy. This is another way of reminding the Pharisees that Jesus didn’t come to destroy, but to bring life abundant.
A (Application): How do I know if what I’m doing is pleasing to the Lord? Put a different way, how do I know if what I’m doing is of the Lord’s prompting, or my own self-interested, sinful prompting?
I think this text helps us to discern this question. You may have to step back from the situation or invite others into the conversation, but one tool we can use to determine if what we’re doing is a prompting from the Lord is to determine if it brings life or if it destroys. If it brings life, it is from the Lord. If it destroys, it is from the thief.
When I’m uncertain about the source of my anxiety, I look at the following:
If the anxiety excites me, it is the Lord prompting me. If the anxiety tears me down, it is of the thief/devil.
What are some instances in which you were excited in a good way? (For me: marriage, birth of children, playing guitar for worship, coaching a team)
What were some instances in which your anxiety brought you down? (For me: fear of failure as a pastor, doubting myself as a husband/father)
Since we are typically blinded to our own sin, bringing others in is helpful. However, this can be scary, because we have to become vulnerable in doing so. My promise to you is this: if you bring others in to your life, and share with them what God is saying to you, you will benefit greatly and experience life abundant.
The greatest benefit to me, of having others as part of these conversations, is that we sometimes convince ourselves that the voice we are following is the Lord’s, when it is actually the devil. The devil is just sneaky that way. Others can point this out to us, because the devil can easily deceive.
Remember: the devil tears down, but The Lord lifts up!
P (Prayer): Lord, keep us steadfast in your Word. Let it shape us and train us to listen for your voice always…so that we may follow where you lead us: to green pastures. Amen.