And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Heb. 12:13
We sometimes meet with those who are fleet of foot and joyous of spirit. Would to God that all were so! But as they are not, the lame must be considered.
The road should be cleared for tottering steps.
Our desire is that the whole band may reach the journey's end in safety.
I. In all flocks there are lame sheep.
1. Some are so from their very nature and birth.
Ready to despond and doubt.
Ready to disbelieve and fall into error.
Ready to yield to temptation, and so to prove unstable.
Unready and feeble in all practical duties.
2. Some have been ill-fed. This brings on a footrot and lameness.
Many are taught false doctrine.
Many more receive indefinite, hazy doctrine.
Many others hear light, unsubstantial, chaffy doctrine.
3. Some have been worried, and so driven to lameness.
By Satan, with his insinuations and temptations.
By persecutors, with their slander, taunting, ridicule, etc.
By proud professors, unkindly pious, severely critical, etc.
By a morbid conscience, seeing evil where there is none
4. Some have grown weary through the roughness of the road.
Exceeding much ignorance has enfeebled them.
Exceeding much worldly trouble has depressed them.
Exceeding much inward conflict has grieved them.
Exceeding much controversy has worried them.
5. Some have gradually become weak.
Backsliding by neglect of the means of grace.
Backsliding through the evil influence of others.
Backsliding through pride of heart and self-satisfaction.
Backsliding through general coldness of heart.
6. Some have had a terrible fall.
This has broken their bones so as to prevent progress.
This has snapped the sinew of their usefulness.
This has crippled them as to holy joy.
II. The rest of the flock must seek their healing.
1. By seeking their company, and not leaving them to perish by the way through neglect, contempt and despair.
2. By endeavoring to comfort them and to restore them. This can be done by the more experienced among us; and those who are unfit for such difficult work, can try the next plan, which is so plainly mentioned in our text.
3. By making straight paths for our own feet.
By unquestionable holiness of life.
By plain gospel teaching in our own simple way.
By manifest joy in the Lord.
By avoiding all crooked customs which might perplex them.
By thus showing them that Jesus is to us 'The way, the truth, and the life." No path can be more straight than that of simple faith in Jesus.
III. The Shepherd of the flock cares for such.
1. Their fears: they conclude that he will leave them.
2. The reason: to do so would be by far the easier plan for him.
3. Their dread: if he did so, they must inevitably perish.
4. Their comfort: he has provided all the means of healing the lame.
5. Their hope: he is very gentle and tender, and wills not that any one of them should wander and perish.
6. Their confidence: healing will win him much honor and grateful affection: wherefore we conclude that he will keep them.
Let us be careful to cause no offence or injury to the weakest.
Let us endeavor to restore such as are out of the way, and comfort those who are sorely afflicted.
C. H. Spurgeon