Wednesday, December 02nd, 2009 | Author:

Having never been part of their culture, I don’t know much about the things that motivate military people, but I came across this quote a while back that I suspect represents the attitude of a good many of them:

“It is better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep.”

According to Wikipedia, this is an Italian motto that is preserved on some broken walls memorializing the Battle of the Piave River during WWI.

I suspect that this saying also represents the attitude of a good many non-military Americans today.  After all, who wants people to think they’re like sheep?  According to a friend who used to raise them, sheep are incredibly stupid.  Not only that, they’ve come to be known as the animal that will blindly follow anybody, anywhere.  And we Americans, of course, aren’t like that.  No indeed.  We think for ourselves.  We make our own decisions.

In some ways, this motto reminds me of a defiant two-year-old, kicking and screaming while his parent holds him close to protect him from his own foolishness;  or the older child who adamantly declares, “You can’t make me!”;  or the teenager who says, “I’ll make my own decisions.”  In short, it’s a declaration of independence, a rebellion against submission – and a common American attitude.

But is it biblical?  Well …

  • The word “sheep” shows up 185 times in the NASB, and usually its not talking about furry critters
  • From the 23rd Psalm The Lord is my shepherd through Isaiah 40:11 Like a shepherd He will tend His flock through John 10:11 I am the good shepherd, God’s people are referred to as a flock of sheep, and Jesus as our Shepherd – over and over again
  • Lost sinners are also often compared to sheep:  from Jeremiah 50:6 My people have become lost sheep to Matthew 9:36 He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd to 1 Peter 2:25 For you were continually straying like sheep; and, again, there are many other similar passages.

So it occurs to me that defiantly declaring that we’re not sheep doesn’t line up very well with God’s thinking.  In fact, it’s got to be classified as the sin of rebellion, leading us into divination and witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23) – which explains some of the problems in today’s American church.

The truth is that we are all sheep.  We are designed that way.  We all follow something or someone, no matter how much we deny it, or assert our independent thinking.  The only thing in question is what or who we are following. And the only submission that leads to peace in our hearts is submission to God.

So the next time you don’t have peace, the next time that two-year-old inside of you starts kicking and fussing, ask yourself  Who you’re rebelling against – and read some of these verses.  Then repeat after me:  I am a sheep.  The Lord is my Shepherd.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety.
(Psalms 4:8)

The LORD will give strength to His people;
The LORD will bless His people with peace.
(Psalms 29:11)

Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.
(Psalms 119:165)

The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
(Isaiah 26:3)

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
(John 14:27)

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
(John 16:33)

For the mind set on the flesh is death,
but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace
(Romans 8:6)

Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.
(Luke 2:14)

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9 Responses
  1. Lisa says:

    Everyone who is against some group or organization today uses the term “sheeple.” All of us are sheep in some way, but who is our shepherd? Are they looking out for us or leading us off a cliff?

  2. Very true post. Often people will say, “I’m my own man, I will do what I want.” and then turn around and say some wacko thing because “They said so on TV!”
    It is true, in submission there is peace.

    Thanks for posting!

  3. akagaga says:

    @Lisa You’re right, “sheeple” is the current great American insult – like “Your mother wears combat boots” was when I was young. And yet, the same people who apply it to others are usually blind to their own sheepish tendencies. American Idol, anyone?

    @Alice Yes, of course TV is our best source of information. :) And the older I get, the more I realize how related submission and peace are.

  4. carolyn says:

    I have NO problem being a sheep. baaabaaa:)

  5. akagaga says:

    @Carolyn Well, I knew that! You’re one of the furriest sheep I know! Speaking of which, isn’t it time for you to get sheared? :)

  6. Rebecca says:

    Great post! And OOOOO it goes SO against modern thought that it makes me salivate with satisfaction, muahahahha!

    But it is true– humans are hard-wired to follow.

    And I also recall something that a former Speaker of the House once said (this was waaay back, back when there were statesmen in government and not politicians):

    All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet. It may do for other countries and other governments to talk about the State supporting religion. Here, under our own free institutions, it is Religion which must support the State.
    Robert Winthrop, Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Bible Society
    Boston, Mass; May 28, 1849

    As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord. :D

  7. akagaga says:

    @Rebecca Ooh, salivating. You really are a sheep! (They must drool, don’t they?)

    And leave it to you to come up with such a great quote. I love it! I have to do something with it! But I don’t know what!

    BTW, I think you’re doing a pretty good job of covering for Herky until he can re-join us. :) But I still miss him! Hurry back, Herky!

  8. Ken Eastburn says:

    Great word. If I may, though, I’d like to offer some clarification.

    As Christians, we believe that our submitting to the Lord IS an act of defiance. Not only that, since it is in our weakness that he is strong, when we submit, we are strongest.

    Part of the paradox of the Kingdom, I suppose: in submitting like sheep, we are strong like lions.

  9. akagaga says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Ken. I’m with you on the weakness/strength thought, and it’s a good point. I’m a little confused, though, by this part:

    As Christians, we believe that our submitting to the Lord IS an act of defiance.

    You got a scripture to go with that?