The parable of the straying sheep should be treasured as a motto in every household. The divine Shepherd leaves the ninety and nine, and goes out into the wilderness to seek the one that is lost. There are thickets, quagmires, and dangerous crevices in the rocks, and the Shepherd knows that if the sheep is in any of these places, a friendly hand must help it out. As He hears its bleating afar off, He encounters any and every difficulty that He may save His sheep that is lost. When He discovers the lost one, He does not greet it with reproaches. He is only glad that He has found it alive. With firm yet gentle hand He parts the briers or takes it from the mire; tenderly He lifts it to His shoulders and bears it back to the fold. The pure, sinless Redeemer bears the sinful, the unclean.
The Sin Bearer carries the befouled sheep, yet so precious is His burden that He rejoices, singing: “I have found My sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:6). Let every one of you consider that your individual self has thus been borne upon Christ’s shoulders. Let none entertain a masterly spirit, a self-righteous, criticizing spirit; for not one sheep would ever have entered the fold if the Shepherd had not undertaken the painful search in the desert. The fact that one sheep was lost was enough to awaken the sympathy of the Shepherd and start Him on His quest.
This speck of a world was the scene of the incarnation and suffering of the Son of God. Christ did not go to worlds unfallen, but He came to this world, all seared and marred with the curse. The outlook was not favorable, but most discouraging. Yet “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth” (Isaiah 42:4). We must bear in mind the great joy manifested by the Shepherd at the recovery of the lost. He calls upon His neighbors: “Rejoice with Me; for I have found My sheep which was lost” (Luke 15:6). And all heaven echoes the note of joy. The Father Himself joys over the rescued one with singing. What a holy ecstasy of joy is expressed in this parable! That joy it is your privilege to share.
Are you, who have this example before you, cooperating with Him who is seeking to save the lost? Are you colaborers with Christ? Can you not for His sake endure suffering, sacrifice, and trial? There is opportunity for doing good to the souls of the youth and the erring. If you see one whose words or attitude shows that he is separated from God, do not blame him. It is not your work to condemn him, but come close to his side to give him help. Consider the humility of Christ, and His meekness and lowliness, and work as He worked, with a heart full of sanctified tenderness. “At the same time, saith the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people. Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:1–3).
In order for us to work as Christ worked, self must be crucified. It is a painful death; but it is life, life to the soul. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15). Testimonies, vol. 6, 124, 125