This comes in the middle of Ezekial 34, which is a chapter about shepherding. In the middle, it switches to a talk with the flock itself.
18 Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture,but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures?and to have drunk of the deep waters,but ye must foul the residue with your feet?they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet;and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.Behold, I,even I,will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle.(Ezekiel 34:18-20)
It took me several years to figure out what this was talking about, when it refers to cattle eating the good pasture and then treading down the rest with their feet. It refers to members who are participating in nourishing spiritual experiences and then ruining those experiences for others, whether with a lack of attention, or inappropriate comments, or criticism, or improper deportment.
Ruining it for others arises out of a lack of reverence and appreciation for the blessings of those experiences. The question that comes at the beginning is very apt—“Seemeth it a small thing unto you?” When we are not reverence or grateful, then yes, it does seems a small thing to us. Everything is “no big deal” when we aren’t reverent.
The Lord doesn’t let these things go. It says in verse 20 that He will judge between fat cattle and lean cattle. It is not clear whether the “fat” cattle are those that are nourished spiritually or whether they are so self-satisfied that they aren’t willing to ‘eat’ any more or let anyone else do so. It is not clear whether the “lean” cattle are those who have been deprived because of others’ lack of reverence or whether they are deprived because of their own lack of reverence. Whichever is the case, though, we are assured that the Lord will hold accountable those who ruin it for others.
This is a good scripture to use if you’re trying to teach a church class and someone is consistently driving away the Spirit with smart-aleck comments. If my mom had known about this one when I was a teen, she probably would have used it on me on a few occasions.