From the writings of J. C. Ryle:
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10)
The Lord Jesus Christ [says] of His sheep who hear His voice and follow Him, “I know them.” I know their number, their names, their particular characters, their besetting sins, their troubles, their trials, their temptations, their doubts, their prayers, their private meditations; I know everything about everyone of them. Think what a comfortable saying that is! The world knows nothing about Christ’s sheep; to be sure, the world remarks there are a few people, here one and there one, who live differently to others, who seem to be more serious in their deportment, who appear to be taken up with some important consideration or other—but the world only wonders they can be so particular about little sins, and when their ways run counter to the world, the world is vastly offended. But as for their fear of sin, and their carefulness about souls, the world neither knows nor understands what they are about; the secret springs of their conduct are all hidden.
Again, a Christian’s friends do often know him not. They may possibly respect him and allow him to hold on his way unopposed—though this, alas! is not always the case—but as for his pleasures and his pains, his constant warfare with the flesh, the world and the devil, his dread of falling into temptation, his delight in all means of grace, they can neither explain nor comprehend it; there is a something hidden in his character of which they know nothing.
Be comforted, all you who are tried and buffeted with difficulties in your way towards heaven, difficulties from without and difficulties from within, difficulties abroad and difficulties at home, grief for your own sins and grief for the sins of others: the Good Shepherd Jesus knows you well, though you may not think it. You never shed a secret tear over your own corruption, you never breathed a single prayer for forgiveness and helping grace, you never made a single struggle against wickedness, which He did not remark and note down in the book of His remembrance. You need not fear His not understanding your needs, you need not be afraid your prayers are too poor and unlearned to be attended to; He knows your particular necessities far better than you do yourselves, and your humble supplications are no sooner offered up than heard. You may sometimes sigh and mourn for lack of Christian fellowship, you may sometimes lament that you have not more around you with whom you might take sweet converse about salvation—but remember there is a Good Shepherd, who is ever about your path and about your bed, His eyes are on all your movements, and no husband, brother, father, mother, sister, friend, could take more tender interest in your soul’s welfare than He does. If you transgress He will grieve—but He will chasten and bring you back; if you bear good fruit, He will rejoice and give more grace; if you sorrow He will bind up your broken heart and pour in balm; He is ever watching and observing and listening; no believer is so humble and lowly, but He is acquainted with all their ways. . . .
Oh, what a blessed and comfortable thing to be known by Christ, known and marked as His friends, His relations, His dear children, His beloved family, His purchased possession! Here we are often cast down, often discouraged, often persecuted, often spoken against, often misunderstood—but let us take courage, our Lord and Master knows all. A day shall come when we shall no longer see through a glass darkly—but face to face—a day when we shall know even as we are now known; for the union between us and our Redeemer, which we so often feel disposed to doubt, shall then be clearly seen, and we shall no more go out to battle. (“The Privileges of the True Christian”)
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