“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them and the sheep follow him. For they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”  This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So, Jesus again said to them,” Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:1-11

When deciding if we should follow a voice, we use scripture as a guide. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit. If we are listening to God’s voice, then it will promote love for others, healthy relationships, active listening, and acts of kindness. God’s voice prompts us to be trustworthy in our dealings with people, to be careful and thoughtful before we speak or act, and to strive to work for the good of other people.

If the voice we are hearing is urging broken relationships, strife, confusion, anger, lies, distrust, or self-preservation, without any regard for the consequences to ourselves or others, then this is the voice of the thief. The thief seeks to,” …steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10. He is only interested in what is good and profitable for himself and he has no regard for the good of others.

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11. We are his sheep and we can trust him. We can follow where he leads because we know his voice. God’s character is revealed in his word, and we become familiar with God’s voice and his character by spending time reading, meditating and praying God’s word. God will lead us in a way which is consistent with his character and with his word. Jesus’ voice will encourage us to interact with others with, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…” Galatians 5:22-23a.

Focus on the fruit of the spirit this week. Look for opportunities to show love, kindness, faithfulness or gentleness to someone who could benefit from your encouragement. Pray about which fruit of the spirit Jesus is asking you to demonstrate to someone this week.

By Grace Hunter

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