Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Being a Black Sheep Is Not Always Negative
You might have been labeled the black sheep of your family by you or other family members. Most people think being the black sheep of the family is a bad thing. However, being the black sheep of the family is not always derogatory or negative.
The black sheep of the family is typically known as the one who brings shame and disgrace to the family. This is not always true. Hopefully, this article will be good news for anyone who thinks he or she is the black sheep of the family.
While the term black sheep is typically used in families, you might be interested to know that it is also used in companies, churches, and other organizations where there is one member whose behavior is different from the majority especially if that behavior seems to jeopardize the group's image.
It might also be interesting to know that in some cultures, the odd family member is considered a good luck omen.
Meaning of a Black Sheep
Black sheep is an expression used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially within a family. This expression gives negative implications, implying that a person is different from other family members. The expression comes from the idea that because a black sheep is in the minority, it will surely stand out among the majority of sheep which are white.
The expression "black sheep" is based on the idea that black sheep were less valuable than white ones because it was more difficult to dye their wool in different colors.
It was rare for a black sheep to be among a flock of white sheep. Because the black sheep was rare, its wool is more highly prized.
The black sheep is prized in certain cultures. So originally the black sheep was special, but today it has come to have a derogatory meaning.
The expression "black sheep" is an American expression. This expression is also used in other countries, but the animal is different. In Russia, the odd thing is a "white crow." In other words, it is the thing that is different from the majority.
You might remember the nursery rhyme: "Baa Baa black sheep, do you have any wool? Yes, sir, Yes, sir, three bags full." That black sheep was valuable and produced a lot of wool.
Being a Black Sheep Is Not Always Bad
Personally, I believe the black sheep in a family is the one who is different or unique. However, that difference doesn't have to be bad. For example, if everyone in your family is a drunkard and you don't drink, they might call you the oddball or the black sheep. That is not a bad thing.
Another example is that you might be the only one who graduated from college. That's a good thing, but your family could tease and taunt you about it and call you the black sheep.
Biblical Examples of Black Sheep
Throughout the Bible, there are examples of people who might be considered black sheep.
Joseph was different so his brothers put him in a pit and sold him into slavery. (Genesis 37-50). However, in the end, it was Joseph who saved his family from starvation.
Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 was considered a born loser. His mother named him Jabez, meaning "pain." Jabez prayed to God and God changed the circumstances of his life. Then Jabez became more honorable than his brothers.
Gideon in Judges 6 was a young man from an otherwise unremarkable clan from the tribe of Manasseh. He was called by God to free the people of Israel and to condemn their worship of idols. Because Gideon considered himself to be a black sheep among his own people, he requested proof of God's will by putting out a fleece. To make sure he had heard from God, Gideon put out the fleece twice.
Jephthah in Judges 10:1-3 was driven away from home by his brothers because he was considered the black sheep of the family. Trying to do something worthwhile, Jephthah vowed to God that he would sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house if God would allow him to win a battle. He had to keep his word, and he sacrificed his only daughter because of the vow that would cause his brothers not to think of him as a black sheep.
Jeremiah's family thought he was the black sheep of the family. Jeremiah was made a laughing stock when he prophesied the words of God. The people in his own hometown tried to run him out of town. When that didn't work, they tried to kill him by putting him in a well.
Jesus encountered some of the same things that Jeremiah experienced. His family denied Him until after His death. He could not perform miracles in his hometown because some people did not believe Him. He was considered a prophet without honor. In other words, Jesus was considered a black sheep just like some of us.
Other Articles To Read
- Psalm 23: A Sheep's Testimony
Psalm 23 is the best known and most popular of all the psalms. Many people know this psalm by heart. The psalm is loved by Jews and Christians alike, speaking as it does of God’s protection and care.