You can't do this on your own
From Letters of Paul: 30-Day Bible Study
Sheep are never more free than when they're following their shepherd. The shepherd knows them better than they know themselves. As he guides them, they're free to live as they should. But if a sheep chooses to venture out on its own, it's in trouble.
Following God, our shepherd, means following Him as He leads us on the right paths. He will steer us clear of things that might harm or distract us from his ways (Psalm 23:3 and 1 Timothy 1:6). God's commands help us avoid sinful practices that hurt us and hurt others (Psalm 23:4 and 1 Timothy 1:8-11). God pursues us always with His goodness and love. He desires to spend forever with us (Psalm 23:6).
Paul reminded Timothy that he must depend on God to live the Christian life. Advancing God's work comes through faith — our total dependence on God (1 Timothy 1:5).
Paul knew better than anyone where relying on good intentions instead of God could take a person. Paul's religiousness led him down a path of persecuting Christians, but Jesus showed Paul mercy (1 Timothy 1:12-13). Paul knew he had done much to disappoint God, but God's grace set Paul free from his past.
Jesus came to save people like Paul (1 Timothy 1:15-16). So Paul encouraged Timothy to fight the spiritual battle to which God had called him, but to remember he needed to trust in God and in His Word to do so (1 Timothy 1:18).
The most important thing Paul passes on to Timothy isn't a strategy or saying, but a reminder that none of us can live the Jesus life apart from God's mercy. Fortunately for all of us, God's mercy is available for all who claim it (Romans 10:9-10).
- How have you seen God's mercy in your life?
- What spiritual lessons can you learn from sheep and shepherds in Psalm 23?