Monday, December 10, 2012

The sin of neglect

"Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?"
Ezekiel 34:2

My cat is meowing.  For no reason.  She does that sometimes... She makes us think she's out of food, but then when one of us goes to fill her food bowl, most of the time she's got food in there already. 

Sometimes I wonder if she just wants company.  I'll come into the room, and she'll be standing there meowing, but the minute she sees me, she starts eating.   Funny....

She's a very meowy cat.  Social.  She meows to ask for food, or to let us know she's out of water, or just to say "hi" when we walk by.  It's one of the things I loved about her when I chose her at the shelter.  Actually, it's how she chose me.  But it's how I knew I wanted her. 

We are still studying Jeremiah in church, and one of the passage we read a few weeks ago made me think of my sweet kitty.   It's a powerful, painful verse.  A warning.  It says, "Therefore, thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people:  'You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them.' "

It was that last part that got my attention:  "you have not attended to them."  It reminded me that when we are responsible for someone ~ or even something ~ neglect is just as bad as abuse. 

God talks about shepherding a lot, but one place where you can learn a lot about bad shepherding is in Ezekiel 34.   Here's a sampling:  "The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost, but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.  So they were scattered because there was no shepherd." (verses 4-5)

It's a lot of wrong-doing.  But it's also neglect. 

I think neglect is easier for us to rationalize.  I'm too busy... you don't know my schedule... it's not my gift... someone else will take care of it...  Who of us hasn't said that when there's a job to be done?  When God draws our attention to something, it's not supposed to be for spiritual sight-seeing.

I'd like to point fingers when I read this.  I'd like to focus exclusively on others' mistakes.  And I'm sure I could think of some.  But it's not an effective warning to me if I don't apply it to myself. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to make sure my cat has food.

~ "Water the sheep and go and feed them" ~
Genesis 29:7

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