Names

Call People Names that will Upset and Offend Them

Ed, my neighbor next door, refuses to believe I could live so long and know so little. My neighbor was irritated with me last week when he asked me the worst name I could call another person. Ed likes to call other folks names, like, brain-dead, stupid, greedy and ding-bat. These were among the milder labels he puts on people. When I told him, it was no compliment to call other people, ‘sheep.’ He lost himself in pure frustration with me.

“Hit me with a stick or stone, and I might bleed,” Ed fumed. “Call me stupid or a ding-bat and look out for those are fighting words. Call me a sheep and I could care less! Ray, you are so pathetic that you cannot even insult other people with force,” my neighbor ranted at me.

Ed gets edgy and sour, as spring becomes a more permanent reality. As Ed starts calculating his seeding plans and tabulating the cost of seed, fertilizer, spray and fuel, he can get a bit impatient calling other people unflattering names. His words tend to become critical to the point of caustic. When Ed completes his seeding, he is less willing to call other people names. Seeding and harvest time bring out the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide personality in my neighbor. Like the rest of us, Ed has a split personality. Sometimes we are edgy and critical, and other times calm and tolerant. We can all be nice, and we can all be nasty, towards others depending on the situation, day, or season. As human beings, we tend to be very unpredictable.

When God calls his children sheep, it is not because they are unpredictable. Being called a sheep may seem a neutral name but it isn’t. It means you are completely predictable and defenseless. For their protection, sheep run away from an enemy. They are not exceptionally fast runners so their predators can out run them. Skunks can fight off enemies with their spray, and porcupines pierce their enemies with quills, but sheep have no way to protect themselves when caught by a predator. Sheep are animals that wander off, and get lost or in trouble effortlessly. Sheep need a shepherd to protect and direct them if they hope to live long or well. Sheep are extremely vulnerable but never seem to know it. What the sheep know isn’t as important as what their shepherd knows and does for them. Sheep need a good shepherd who will offer them untiring goodness in the form of provision, rest, protection, guidance, and the promise of a good future.

King David wrote about God being his Good Shepherd in the 23rd Psalm. Having been a shepherd himself, David identified God in the Psalm, as his good shepherd leading and protecting him like a sheep during David’s life. God granted to David protection, provisions, guidance, rest, and the promise of an eternal home. The king knew God was ready and willing to give the same things to all God’s children or all God’s sheep, as their shepherd in daily life. Like sheep, many folks do not recognize that they are vulnerable and defenseless against the predators of evil. They refuse God’s loving shepherding.

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Raymond Maher
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