“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4).
What kind of shepherd leaves ninety-nine good, clean-living, straight-laced sheep to go look for one lost cause? Who does that? “We lose one. Big deal. We still got ninety-nine,” most would argue. Leave ninety-nine well tamed sheep to go search for one loose canon is ridiculous. What shepherd would take the risk? A shepherd who values every sheep. A shepherd who does not believe in lost causes.
It is easy to dismiss persons as lost causes. Someone goes in and out of rehab and we consider them a lost cause. We accuse the person who moves from one bad relationship to the next as someone who never learns. A teenager who never grows from her mistakes is someone we say will just have to learn the hard way. We give up. We turn our backs. We dismiss as lost causes the mess-ups of the world.
But if you are a shepherd who values every sheep, then each sheep carries its own worth. How much does a sheep cost? Nothing, if you have already given up on it. Everything, if you have never stopped caring.