Links for the Weekend (2/12/2021)

Each Friday, I’ll post links to 3–5 resources from around the web you may want to check out.

10 Brief Reflections on an Elder’s Character

With officer nominations opening at our church on Sunday (February 14), and with the importance of a man’s character in the qualifications for elder and deacon, this seemed like a good article to promote first this week. As you consider nominating men for church office, please prayerfully consider their character!

The Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness

Kindness seems in short supply these days. Megan Taylor wrote about the nature of true kindness as well as its counterfeit.

Without the Spirit, although our kindness may look as if it is directed towards others, it is brimming with self-love and fueled by pride and fear of man. Without a connection to the True Vine, we can only show false kindness. What is false kindness? False kindness is being useful to others only when it is useful to me. False kindness has contingencies. It will appear at advantageous times, such as when we are being observed, or around those we like, or to get what we want. False kindness is touted by the world as a slogan or a feeling. False kindness is Judas Iscariot feigning concern for the poor while skimming off the top of the money bag.

Pruned to Bear Fruit

Dawn Hill has written a moving reflection on Jesus’s vine-branches analogy in John 15. What does it mean that we—as the branches—are pruned, and that God is the one doing the pruning?

The branches are not the focal point. This is the focus: the vine. The tree. This is what gives life to the branches. It is what causes those branches to be fruitful, stubs abiding in the vine while being nourished to flourish so that more fruit can come forth in due season. It comes full circle in John 15, doesn’t it? Apart from Him we can do nothing. Jesus is the vine. He is the focus. We exist to glorify Him and to bear fruit testifying of the Vine.

On the WPCA Blog This Week

This week on the blog we published an article I wrote called Pray According to God’s Character. If you haven’t already seen it, check it out!

Note: Washington Presbyterian Church and the editors of this blog do not necessarily endorse all content produced by the individuals or groups referenced here. 

Jesus, Our Eager Shepherd

What does Jesus think about me?

Does he love me, hate me, or tolerate me? When I sin—is he ashamed of me?

If you’re reading this as a Christian, you’ve probably wrestled with these questions. But here’s another question about Jesus that’s every bit as vital to our everyday faith: How does Jesus view his job?

Did he look forward to his earthly calling, or was he resigned to the task? Is he glad when we pray, or is it a chore for him to care for us?

Our understanding of Jesus’s attitude toward his work and his people affects our prayer lives, our evangelism, and our willingness to trust him. And while the Bible doesn’t record any pre-Incarnation conversations among the members of the Trinity, Scripture is not silent on this issue.

Exhortations to Elders

Peter writes instructions to elders near the end of his first letter (1 Peter 5:1–4). He uses the image of a shepherd with his flock, and he lists three ways shepherds must “exercise oversight.”

  1. Not under compulsion, but willingly (verse 2).
  2. Not for shameful gain, but eagerly (verse 2).
  3. Not domineering over those in their charge, but being examples to the flock (verse 3).

The comparison of God’s people to sheep is instructive if not flattering. Sheep don’t score high on IQ tests. They are prone to lose their way and wander from the herd. In their ignorance they expose themselves to predators, and they are rather helpless on their own.

As those charged to care for a flock like this, elders have a holy and difficult calling. Perhaps this is why Peter follows these commands with a reminder of the promised reward for faithful elders: “And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4).

Jesus, the Chief Shepherd

Peter motivates local church elders with the forthcoming crown, but when he refers to Jesus as the “chief Shepherd,” he gives all of us much to ponder. Elders are shepherds; Jesus is the chief.

If the elders are told how to shepherd in verses 1–3, and if Jesus is the perfect and chief shepherd, then the characteristics urged in men are present fully in Jesus. Specifically:

  1. Jesus does not need to be compelled to be our shepherd; he does it willingly.
  2. Jesus does not shepherd us for gain; he does so eagerly.
  3. Jesus is not a demanding shepherd; he is an example to the flock.


Have you ever pondered this glorious truth (see point 2 above), that Jesus is our eager shepherd?

Think of all the pain, conflict, hardship, frustration, loneliness, separation, and sorrow involved in Jesus’ earthly ministry—especially in his passion. If that lay in front of us, we would flee.

And we often project our reaction onto Jesus. We think Jesus must have been talked into his rescue mission. Maybe he was willing, but he couldn’t have been excited.

No! Jesus was eager to save and shepherd us. While it meant tremendous suffering, he charged into the mission with zeal. He was motivated by joy.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2, emphasis added)

Jesus was eager to save us, and he is eager to love and keep us. We do not annoy or burden him with our confession and prayer. Our confusion and wanderings do not irritate him. He is not troubled by our doubts or questions. He welcomes our helplessness.

Jesus is our good, good shepherd. He feeds and tends and protects his sheep.

We can be as eager to trust Jesus as our shepherd as he is to embrace us as his people.

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