As the Day of the Lord draws near, part of our preparation is to know for certain that we, ourselves, are in the Ark of our Salvation, safe among the family of God. This includes knowing the difference between
- the “Wheat” from the “Tares”,
- the “The Good Shepherd” from the “Hireling” and
- the “Gleaners” from the “Join-Heirs”.
Jesus said, see to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, and will mislead many.
(A video wrap-up is at the end of of this page)
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
John 10:7 “So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
“HIRELINGS” AND “GLEANERS”
These terms, “hirelings” and “gleaners” are found only a few times in the Bible. These terms can be either good or bad. However, they are just word; adjectives.
Adjectives, however, are words or phrases naming an attribute. Words added to a noun to modify or describe it.
These terms are revealing.
The Old Testament describes a “hireling” simply as a hired laborer, perhaps a mercenary, or someone who hires oneself out to earn wages.
The New Testament, however, contrasts the “hireling” with the Shepherd. See John 10:11-13
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.”
There are those who tend to the sheep for commercial purposes. Their intentions may be good and they offer a good service. But, they, too, are nothing more than “hirelings”.
Jesus says, in John 10:14 “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”
Jesus use of the word “shepherd” is used interchangeably for overseers, pastor, elders, and presbyters.
The tasks of a Near Eastern shepherd were to watch for enemies trying to attack the sheep to defend the sheep from attackers to heal the wounded and sick sheep to find and save lost or trapped sheep to love them, sharing their lives and so earning their trust.
During World War II, a shepherd was a pilot who guided another pilot whose plane was partially disabled back to the base or carrier by flying alongside him to maintain visual contact.
Many “hirelings” like to use the moniker of overseer, pastor, elder, and presbyter. Such titles may bring them status, respect, influence, income or even power over others. But, they are just “hirelings”. Beware, however, because wolves are also lurking under the cover of such names.
Remember, unlike a “hireling”, Jesus tell us He requires we complete His Works as His servant as the cost for being His disciple, among His sheepfold. Besides the benefits, there is a requirement.
Don’t be fooled, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” Flee from the “hirelings”.
Leviticus 19:10 says to the vineyard or landowner, “Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the LORD your God.”
We see that a “gleaner” is someone who picks up, or gathers up or collects. The Bible describes them as the “needy and the stranger” and not part of the family of the landowner.
The book of Ruth tells us of an account of Ruth, a Moabite, the widowed daughter-in-law of the widow Naomi. To prevent starvation, Ruth gleaned the fields of Boaz: “And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, ‘Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.’ Naomi said to her, ‘Go ahead, my daughter,’” (Ruth 2:2).
Ruth was a widow and had no husband to provide for her. She took the initiative and went out into the fields to take care of herself and Naomi. She made this effort as a foreigner among Naomi’s people.
In Chapter 4 of the book of Ruth, we read that Boaz takes Ruth as his wife. She is no longer a “gleaner” but is now part of the family, entitled to all Boaz has. The contrast between being a “gleaner” and a family member is stark.
The Bible says that you and I were once like the “gleaner”, not part of God’s family. Maybe “gleaning” what we could from generosity of others.
There are many people in the church and Christian organizations who are actually little more than “gleaners”. They are not like Ruth. Their mind is set to get what they can get from God and from others, whether it is material goods, money, recognition, status or influence.
GLEANERS ARE NOT GOD’S CALLED OUT ONES
You can tell the difference. “Gleaners” focus on themselves and their needs . They have little interest is actually humbling themselves before God or others. They aren’t sure how. They don’t consider “repentance” as an ongoing matter for their own lives, and they tend to pursue the “spiritual gifts” over spiritual disciplines. They usually don’t witness (tell or teach) the Gospel, and are usually unwilling servants.
They can act humble but crave recognition and leadership roles. The tip-off is how they act if they cannot get what they want.
A Believer and Follower of Jesus can also be identified by their behavior. A disciple of Jesus is a son or daughter in the family of God, a brother, sister and friend of Jesus. A joint-heir, entitled to all God has for His own children.
Don’t be a “Hireling”. If you are going to serve God, feed His Sheep.
Be kind to “gleaners”, just don’t be a “gleaner”. If you are going to come near to the House of God, stop being needy and a stranger. Become a child of God and a Joint-Heir with Jesus Christ.
The Day of the Lord is close at hand. Listen for His Voice and follow Him to safety.
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and loving-kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Your Brother and Friend,
Hear what John MacArthur says about The Good Shepherd and “hirelings”
(I have set the video to start at the 8:00 minute mark. Listen to at least 11 minutes and 21 seconds – from 8:00 to 18:21, to get the heart of the message)