The Difference Between Sheep and Goats

“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

-Matthew 25:32-34 and 41


Owning goats has taught me a lot about them. First of all, they’re highly motivated and willful. We keep some chicken feed in our shed, away from the goats. If they eat too much, they’re going to kill themselves by overeating. At first, we tried keeping the food in a plastic bin. The goats figured out how to pop the bin off. Then we weighed it down with a rock. They pushed the rock off. So then we sealed the shed entirely. The only entrance/exit was a tiny hole for the chickens. Well, they chewed through the wood, widening the hole enough for them to squeeze through. We currently have a latched box, and they haven’t managed to chew through it or open it.


Keeping them fenced in was also a problem. We finally upgraded to an electric fence. Know what they did? They jumped clear over it whenever they pleased. Fortunately, they’re usually content to stay fenced in.


Let’s compare this to sheep. In a previous blog post, I’ve said, “Just so you know how dumb sheep are, I once heard of a story where a herd of sheep stampeded off a cliff, until so many had fallen that they stopped dying. How? The huge pile of fluffy, dead sheep below cushioned the other sheeps’ fall.”

While sheep are face-palmingly (ha, isn’t that a great word?) stupid, goats are highly intelligent. Sheep offer little resistance, but goats are willful. So why are sheep invited into the Kingdom, while goats are given everlasting punishment?


So, I was going to have this great example of how shepherd is just sheep combined with herd, the concept of God being our shepherd, and how no one’s ever heard of a goatherd… but then spellcheck didn’t complain about that word, and I realized it was indeed an actual word. -_- But! This is still salvageable.


Goatherd means a person who tends goats. Shepherd not only means to tend sheep, but to guide in a particular direction. Shepherds have the ability to guide sheep, because sheep follow the sound of the shepherd’s voice. In short, we don’t say, “The Lord is my Goatherd, I shall not want” for a reason. You don’t lead goats. You follow them around and make sure they stay out of trouble.

“A sheep is led by its shepherd. A goatherd is led by his goat.”

-United Church of God


Being a goat is pretty popular in today’s culture. The abundance of stubbornness, yet lack of discipline in everyday people amazes me. I don’t understand how people can be so determined to have their own way, but so lazy when it comes to doing things they’re supposed to. Stubbornness and sass are glorified. It’s cool to be feisty, to not yield without a fight, to rebel. When someone snaps, we snap back. After all, we can’t just let them trample over us. Gotta have some self-respect, you know?

But when it comes to controlling our emotions and selfish urges, we’re suddenly less motivated. Meekness and self-control aren’t so popular. And obedience and submission are flat-out undesirable. “Submission” in particular leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Yet this is exactly what we’re called to do, to be meek, turn the other cheek, and submit to God’s will. Not fun. Not cool. Not in style.

To say it in the words of the movie Harvey (1950),

“In this world, Elwood, you can be oh, so, so smart or oh, so pleasant.”

You can be smart, witty, feisty, sassy. Or you can be a sheep. It’s a rather unflattering way to put it, but no one said character was easy.


What do you think is the difference between sheep and goats? Has the concept of being a sheep (submissive, obedient, or meek) ever irked you? Or am I the only one? 😉

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