My Sheep Know My Voice

Sometimes, I’m reading something and I find myself recoiling at the words. It’s difficult to explain, but if you’ve experienced this at all, you likely know what I’m talking about. 

It’s a different sort of experience than one of resistance from Ego. Ego is easy to recognize, once you get the hang of it– it’s messages usually revolve around the scarcity myth, and involve shame and/or fear. 

I think John 10:5 best explains the former phenomena:

“They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Jesus paints a picture of His relationship with His own in John 10. It’s a portrait of gentle trust and provision– Jesus as Shepherd leading His sheep out to pasture. 

I think it’s important for all of us “sheep” to remember, we already know His voice. We can have confidence then in our ability to wade through the myriad doctrines and teachings that the Internet may assault us with. 

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. ”

John 10:3-5 (NRSV)

Whether it be an email, a passage from a book, or even a conversation with a friend– you just know when something is right on. Or when it’s way off. 

You can tell whose voice shines through. And it’s icky when His voice is palpably absent. (Yeah,”icky” is the best word I could come up with tonight… I stand by my word choice).

Have you cultivated the spiritual gift of discernment in your own life?

 If so, how has it affected your understanding of God?


4 thoughts on “My Sheep Know My Voice

  1. I don’t think I can claim to have cultivated the spiritual gift of discernment, but I trust in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” I know that I lack wisdom and discernment. So often, when I think I know something or have it figured out, I find out later how off center I really am. Learning to listen to Jesus and not quench the Spirit is so hard, especially with all the conflicting Christian messages that come at us. I keep praying to learn Jesus’ heart and be truly able to share His love with others. The Pharisees, at least many of them, truly thought they were right and that what they were doing was pleasing to God. And yet they totally missed the whole center piece of the law, to love God and love their neighbors as themselves. Falling into that trap is all to easy unfortunately. Or being led astray in any way I guess.

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    1. But you hit the nail on the head, so to speak. Discernment is, essentially, listening to and understanding the voice of the Holy Spirit. In the Wisdom literature of Judaism (and referred to in a few times in the Pauline letters) the Wisdom of God is personified as Sophia (In Greek translations). In light of Jesus’ promise of the “Paraclete” or Holy Spirit (John 16:13) that will lead us into all truth (the arrival of which is chronicled in the Acts story of Pentecost), we have a portrait of the root of discernment. 1 John 4:1 describes the process as a testing of spirits. Discernment isn’t knowing something intellectual, but recognizing it spiritually. As we follow Christ, learning to discern the Holy Spirit’s voice (or the voice of God’s Wisdom if you prefer)is something we have to come to on our own. But we all have the capacity for this discernment if we are indeed driven to Christ. Of course, it gets complicated for rational creatures to translate what is spiritually discerned into action or rational belief. We don’t always get it right, but we get better at hearing God the more we practice it as part of the living out of our faith.
      Tee hee… I just thought of something– the dynamic is almost akin to a “do or do not, there is no try”. We all can hear God in the process of discernment… The issues arise when we try to figure out what to do with what we hear from Him, and translate it into our human lives. It’s a process of refinement. But here Grace abounds. We have a very patient Teacher;)

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      1. I meant to add more about the lack of love in some of the teachings we encounter… If it lacks the spirit of Love, Divine Love, it’s no longer His voice. Love is the fulfillment of the law, so if we are instructed to view or treat others or ourselves outside of love (Romans 10:13)it’s no longer of God (1 John 4:8). Maybe the words appear similar, but the spirit in which they are spoken is misleading (1 Cor 2:13). If that makes sense?


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