by Henry T. Blackaby Return to Articles

Jesus prayed to the Father for His disciples, “I have declared to them Your Name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). What an incredible statement! Jesus’ one desire was that His disciples possess the same shepherd’s heart that the Father and the Son shared. Love has Christ’s heart –- which is a shepherd’s heart.

The apostle Paul came to know this as well. In Ephesus he urged the church elders and leaders, “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). Every believer, with Christ living out His life in them (Galatians 2:20) will have a “shepherd’s heart,” toward all of God’s people, and all others. This especially will be true in each believer’s marriage, family and workplace.

A picture of the Father’s shepherd heart, which Jesus knew intimately, is beautifully expressed in Psalm 23. I will quote it, with my own emphasis:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Nothing needed for fullness of life will be left out.)

He makes me to lie down in green pastures. (The persuasive presence of a genuine companion and friend.)

He leads me beside the still waters. (There’s no turmoil where He leads.)

He restores my soul. (My entire life is constantly refreshed with Him.)

He leads me in the paths of righteousness. (He can be trusted to act always in a righteous way and to lead at all times in the way that honors Him -– for His name’s sake.)

The rest of this Psalm should be studied and applied by anyone who desires a shepherd’s heart. Also, study the picture given us by Jesus of His shepherd’s heart in John 10.

This kind of lifestyle is the heritage and mandate for every believer. When Christ lives in us, and seeks to live out His life through us, the shepherd’s heart always will be revealed to others and experienced by others. Paul lived this way, receiving those God sent to encourage and help him in his obedience to his Lord, expressing the shepherd’s heart to them, as well as to all of the churches he founded and cared for. In Paul, they truly had a shepherd who cared for them.

Our lives must also display such a heart towards others, both in word and in deed (1 John 3:18, 19). Our marriage partners should experience such a caring heart from us; our children need desperately to know such caring presence from us. Finally, it is imperative that the hurting people around us experience the shepherd’s heart of God through us. Only then will lives be stabilized, encouraged and strengthened by God through us. And God will be honored.

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