I always just accepted the 'badness' of goats and the 'goodness' of sheep, reading Matthew 25.....until we got our two Nubian wethers (fixed male goats). They are totally adorable and there is no way I can find fault with them in terms of their personalities or behavior. I was thinking about that again out cleaning the stalls this morning. They make it hard because they are totally underfoot, wanting loving and patting, and I find myself stopping to give them rubdowns and laughing at their antics. (The one pictured below is not ours, but I got it off the net for fun) Now, I know that, genetically sheep and goats are the same animal, but they LOOK so different (sort of like a cocker spaniel and a German shepherd look different even though they are both canis familiaris). But I noticed last summer that the shorn sheep in ranches near here looked awfully like goats! And this morning it all came together, out there playing with Funny and Shar. The sheep and the goats may have looked alike then, expecially after shearing, but it was not the looks that mattered. It was the actions. I am thinking that both the sheep and the goats of Matthew 25 felt they belonged to the same herd with the same Shepherd. But the behavior was different. And it was the behavior which showed the internal difference. The behavior did not make the internal difference, but it demonstrated it (the book of James applies this to people). Perhaps I am just a little slow on the uptake here, but I always wondered why the goats were getting 'picked on' in that parable. My goats, at least, are really sweet! But that was not the point, I finally realized. The point was that they all looked the same on the outside (after shearing, I presume...), but their behavior showed who they really were inside. It's not that I didn't understand the behavior bit before. I did. That part is pretty obvious. What I did not grasp until this morning was that sheep and goats are genetically the same animal, the same way dogs are, but that, even though they look alike -- and probably even more alike then -- it was not the looks that counted. A lot of people claim to be Christian and go to church and serve on boards and perhaps even pastor churches. It's not what they look like that counts. Behavior shows who they are inside. And while we can't judge, there are times when we can probably make some pretty good guesses.