By Elizabeth Prata
The Bible is replete with warnings about how worthless the assigned shepherds of Israel can be, (Ezekiel 34:2-3), and how worthless the shepherds of a church can be. (Jude 1:12). The verses warn about their judgment for feeding themselves and not the sheep, and more. See Ezekiel 34:4,
Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you searched for the lost; but with force and with violence you have dominated them.
In the New Testament Jude calls these false ones selfish, and Peter calls them indecent, destructive, self-centered, greedy, and much more.
It’s painful to think that the ones in whom we put our trust to teach us well and lead us into righteousness by example and by the preaching of the word, may have ulterior motives that are actually as dastardly as all that. But think of how awful the Pharisees were! They were a group that emerged from times past who were concerned with stricter adherence to the Law. First called Pharisees in around 135BC, the Pharisees held to a strict belief in the Oral Law that God gave to Moses at Sinai, plus the Torah. The Torah was the Written Law, and was open to interpretation.
While it is often hard to picture someone’s evil who operates under the cloak of righteousness, we can look at the Pharisees’ deeds to see just how evil they were. Jesus reserved His worst rebukes for the priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees. There is a reason for that!
–Lazarus suffered an illness, and then suffered death. However, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The chief priests wanted to kill Lazarus AGAIN!!
–They cared more about tithing cumin and mint than for justice and righteousness. They abandoned their duty to minister to the people by offering mercy, and instead focused on minutiae. Mint over people is a bad trade, Jesus said in Matthew 23:23.
–They ignored the needs of the people,
–They co-opted Judas into sin by paying him to reveal where Jesus was so they could arrest him,
–Instead of celebrating his healing, they grilled the recently healed blind man, AND his family, and they all feared the Pharisees. Our shepherds are not supposed to instill fear in us…
–They put people out of the synagogue. Cutting people off…?…Instead of helping them in their sin by showing them the way in love?
The same sins and traits exist today in the worthless shepherds exist today in pastors and elders. How do I know? There is nothing new under the sun. As long as we’re still human living in flesh, as long as there is sin in the world, there will be some shepherds (pastors) who exhibit the same traits the Pharisees did. They are often hard to spot, or if we do spot them, it’s hard to accept their evil. But is IS evil. We rationalize their behavior away.
Are there pastors who put people out of church? Yes, and not for properly followed church discipline reasons. Are there worthless shepherds today who focus on their tithes of mint and enjoy the chief seats instead of helping people in sin? Yes. Are there pastors who manipulate people so they can satisfy their own agenda (which usually is about building their fiefdom inside the church). Yes.
I’m making two points here,
1. Worthless shepherds exist today as they did back in the Pharisee days. Don’t look under every rock for one, that’s the wrong focus. But if you begin to suspect one, don’t ignore the discernment warning, either.
2. If you have a worthwhile shepherd, (pastor/elder) protect him in prayer, support him, meet his/their needs. Praise the Lord for him! The Bible says,
The elders who lead well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. (1 Timothy 5:17).