How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?
Honestly, we don’t usually value other people’s stuff the same way we value what is ours. We aren’t usually affected the same way when someone else loses something that is valuable to them as we are when we lose something that is valuable to us. We might look at the man who lost one sheep and feel like he should be content with the 99 he still has. But every sheep is valuable to its shepherd, and every person is valuable to God. They are His own, and He does not desire any to be lost. So maybe we need to look at other people from God’s perspective in order to value them the way that He does.
Maybe we need to put ourselves in that shepherd’s place in order to understand why he would leave 99 sheep to pursue a solitary one that went astray. We would see the great love that he has for it, the tenderness with which he cares for it, the sacrifices he is willing to make for it, and the heartbreak over losing it. And if somehow we could have that same love and that same tenderness and appreciate the sacrifices that were made, perhaps we would be heartbroken over its loss, as well. And then that depth of feeling that’s developed within us might cause us to go seeking along with that shepherd for his sheep.
Instead of staying where we’re safe and comfortable, maybe then we would be willing to venture out. Maybe we would search among the rocky cliffs or in the desert heat. Maybe we would brave wind and rain and fierce storms to try to find that wandering sheep. Maybe we would be willing to set aside some things we would rather pursue and join the shepherd’s cause, search high and low, go however far it takes us until we can finally find that one sheep and bring him home to the flock.
God’s pursuit is the hearts of men. God’s desire is for all to be saved, that none should perish. Is that our desire, too? Will we start seeing people a little more from God’s perspective—loved, worthy, precious, valuable? The things that have endeared us to our precious Savior, the love and mercy and grace that we’ve experienced ourselves, should be enough for us to trade our perspective for His and then to go out with Him and do whatever it takes to find those who’ve strayed far from Him.