Outline of F.B. Meyer’s sermon on 1 Peter 5:1-4, “God’s Flock and Its Shepherds”:
God’s Flock and Its Shepherds
1 Peter 5:1-4
The elders therefore among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according unto God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away.
First, there is only flock, however many may be the folds:
Wherever God’s people gathered, there was part of his flock. The flock itself was scattered throughout the whole world, and according to our Master’s prayer was one, even as it is to-day. For though there are many folds, there is but one flock (John 10:16)
Though some of the sheep are being led by the living fountains of waters beyond the river ; and others are treading the stony defiles of this side — yet it is the same flock, bought at the same time, marked with the same initials, belonging to the same Owner. And wherever any believers gather, there is a portion of the one flock, and its officers, teachers, and spiritual guides are just shepherds, pastors.
Suffering qualifies one as a shepherd in this flock:
This is the one qualification for tending the flock of God: not to have received a learned education ; not to be able to talk glibly or eloquently of spiritual things ; not to have been in the imaginary line of apostolic succession— a man may lay claim to all these things, and yet not be competent to feed the flock of God. We must behold, each for himself, the sufferings of Christ, not necessarily with the eye of the flesh, but with the eye of the soul; not with the curious glance of the fickle crowd, but with the fixed loving gaze, which finds in them cleansing for sins and balm for wounds.
And to see those sufferings is not only a qualification for shepherdship, but for glory. As surely as a man beholds those sufferings sympathetically and believingly, so surely shall he behold the glory yet to be revealed. The one is the prelude to the other. No cross, no crown. But where there is the true cross, crown there must be. It may seem to tarry long. The heart may turn sick at the long delay. But that glory which shines now and again as we climb the Transfiguration Mount shall ere long make a perpetual heaven for us when it is revealed.
The Shepherd’s Care:
The shepherd must feed the flock:
It is not enough to preach to the flock once or twice each week. There must be personal supervision; watching for souls as by those who must give account ; seeking them if they go astray; tracking them to the precipice down which they have fallen; and never resting till the straying sheep is brought again to the fold. All this is included in the word; and we need to do all. This if we are to tend the flock of God.
The work must be done from Spirit-wrought love:
There must be the love which is akin to the love of the Chief Shepherd Himself. A love which can endure without return or thanks; which can grow where there is scarcely any soil; and which clings to the least lovely and thankful. That love is only shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
For the work, the shepherd will give an account to The Shepherd:
The sphere and people of our ministry should be taken straight from the hands of the Chief Shepherd. We are only accountable to Him. Our work must be done to please Him, and at his direction. We must consult Him about all our plans. We must take his directions as to what part of the green pastures our portion of the flock is to be led into, and by what waters it shall rest. If anything goes wrong we must consider that it should be instantly reported to Him, as the fret and care and burden of direction must certainly be his. If we make mistakes, and the flock suffer through our ignorance, the brunt of the loss must fall on Him. There is no one so interested in the pastor’s charge as the Chief Pastor is. He shares all the anxieties, hardships, watchings, and perils of the work. Not to please the flock, not to attract the applause of men, not to gain name and fame, but to do the will of the Chief Shepherd, must be the aim of each true servant of Christ.
What if the local shepherd fails, will the sheep be lost?
Surely, in this conception of the Chief Shepherd there is comfort for those who constitute the flock. When the under-shepherd fails, the Chief Shepherd may be expected to step in to supply his vacated place, or to do his neglected work. Do not grumble to man, but take your complaints to headquarters. And if He does not replace the worthless under-shepherd by another. He will undertake the office of caring for you with his own hands ; and you shall cry, ” The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” He will see the work done, or do it Himself.