"Fear not, little flock." Luke 12:32
This is a most endearing title. The Savior would encourage his disciples. Their cares and conflicts are many. Their fears and anxieties are many. Their weakness is constant and extreme. But Jesus allows them not to despond. The title of pilgrims refers to their condition. This present title refers to their comparative numbers. A little flock traveling together through a hostile region. It was so when Jesus spoke. It has always been so. It is still so. The real disciples of Jesus are a little flock in comparison with the rest of mankind. This title brings out many important thoughts. Am I one of them? Has the Lord brought me truly there? Then let me remember,
1. That numbers are no just test of truth. Men are often deluded with this idea. The 'majority' in earthly societies must govern. They can determine the greater convenience of the whole. But it is not so in the cause of truth and of the soul. Paganism and Mohamedism may supersede Christianity even now. The world is ever opposed to Christ. The great body of mankind reject the gospel. If I belong to Christ, I am one of a few. Even among my own acquaintances, the most may not be true Christians. My mind must not be deceived. I must be content to maintain the truth alone, if all others forsake it. Thus did Elijah--thus did Paul--thus did Athanasius--thus did Luther. The word of God is still the same, the will of God is still unchanged. Let me cleave to that, if I am left alone. I will not look out to ask what others think. I will go to the sacred volume, and ask what the Lord says. If I am on his side, I must be right. Multitudes opposed to me, must never discourage me. God's beloved ones are often hidden in the dens and caves of the earth.
2. That weakness does not involve insecurity. Often the feeblest is the most secure even in earthly connections. The little infant will be the most sheltered and guarded one of the household. In the Lord's family, his hand is ever turned to cover the feeble ones. His flock on earth may have no strength. Paganism may ravage them. Popery may murder them. But neither can hurt them. God protects them still. Martyrs may burn alone, while multitudes shout around. But God guards them, and the flames are his chariot of fire for his children. Why should I ever fear because I am weak? Nothing could be done by any strength of mine. Goliath's armor would do me no good. If I am trusting in the Lord, and living by faith in him, he compasses me as with mountains. He builds a wall of fire round about me. No enemy can touch a hair of my head without his permission. Oh, let me cease from looking to the earth, and look upward, from whence comes my help.
3. That Jesus does not judge according to the outward appearance. He asks no help of man. He knows those who are his. There may be a great company clothed in scarlet and fine linen, calling themselves his church. But they cannot deceive him. Pomp and display do not make or mark his church. His real people may be very unnoticed--very little known. Their whole appearance may be humble and downcast. They may have no earthly influence or station. They may be put to death by others professedly in his name. All this has been done many times over. But what of that? All this does not deceive the Lord. He knows his little flock, however despised. Oh let me not be deceived, or discouraged, by outward appearances either. I would seek the truth; I would follow the truth; I would abide by the truth; and look up for my Master's acceptance of his own work. He can sustain his own. I would conform my judgments to his. He loves his little flock, though the world hates them and casts them out.
4. That God will surely protect his own. How can I doubt it? How can there be any evil to God's elect? His power, wisdom, goodness, all combine to make them perfectly secure and surely happy. All things are theirs. Both death and life minister to their welfare. The flock of Christ may often appear extremely small. The gospel may sometimes be almost banished from among men. The wicked may seem to have triumphed. I must take heed. I must not be discouraged, nor cast down, nor dishonor God by unbelief. Old Latimer's dying assurance was, "Brother, we shall this day light such a candle in England, as, by God's grace, will never be put out." This was noble; but it was truth, and duty. Why should I not always think so? God must reign. And if I cleave to his side, I must reign with him. All discouragement and despondency are sinful. I will throw them aside. The Lord can make every feeble one--as David. I have nothing to do with difficulties. My business is--to hear the word, to understand the word, to receive the word, and to follow the word to the end. Everything else God will order. I should be most happy if we were many. I would that all the world were the Lord's prophets. But if all others hold back, he can save by few or by many, and it is my blessed privilege to hold on, never discouraged; hopeful to the last.
5. The Savior's little flock may be much tempted. But they are never to lose sight of these blessed facts. They must never forget that numbers do not determine truth; that weakness does not involve insecurity; that Jesus does not judge according to the outward appearance; that God will certainly protect his people. Oh, these blessed principles will hold me up through every trial. I will keep fast hold of them. By the Savior's help I will never let them go.
Fair is the lot that's cast for me;
I have an Advocate with thee;
They whom the world caresses most,
Have no such privilege to boast.
Poor though I am, despised, forgot,
Yet God, my God, forsakes me not;
And he is safe, and must succeed,
For whom the Lord vouchsafes to plead.