Having a Shepherd’s Heart – Showing Compassion
Jesus said a lot about sheep. He was the son of a carpenter, but somehow knew a lot about sheep. Look over these short passages; all the words or thoughts of Jesus:
John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
Luke 15:4-7: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Matthew 9:36: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
The heart of each of these sets of verses is compassion. Jesus had great compassion for people. More important than sheep is the shepherd. Without the shepherd the sheep scatter. They would not make it. However, when a good shepherd comes along and cares for his flock, the sheep stay protected and well nourished. It is compassion for his sheep that drives his desire to care for them. The shepherd knows his role and is careful to observe it.
Many of us are to be shepherds of a flock to which God has entrusted us. We may be the caregivers of our homes, work places or leaders in some fashion in our churches. All too often we leak and forget that we hold these roles. You see, the shepherd of a flock of sheep cannot forget his orders even for a minute. His job is that critical. You and I have that same responsibility. We have to throw off detrimental pride and see people the way that Jesus sees them. Most people aren’t maliciously entertaining sin. Rather, they are like sheep. They are unaware of their dire circumstances. It is better for we to be on the look out for ways to help bring someone back to the way of righteousness through love. Through compassion. Brow beating is good for no one.
Never dismiss someone or count them as a loss; lest you and I be tossed aside as well. Every person was born for a purpose and their plan is to prosper. Even if a sheep is to fall away, go and bring them back. In reality, this may mean praying for your brother and sister. In times of prideful sin, just about no one is ready to receive. Rather, the Holy Spirit is the great helper. Importantly, be prepared for when they do return and are open to receiving your invitation. If you have dismissed someone long enough then you can grow calloused. Rather, have deep-seated compassion. Be ready for the bright and wonderful day of the prodigal’s return. Be looking forward to it. Never cease praying.
They best way to care for sheep is to think like a sheep. If someone has fallen away from Christ, don’t excuse the sin, but for the great love of Jesus, don’t cast out the sinner. We all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We all are without excuse, except for the great love of Jesus. Rather than dismiss, pray.
It is awesome to stand in the place of an intercessor. Seeing one of God’s people return to him makes the angels rejoice. You and I should be ready to party too. Be careful to not have the sceptic’s heart like the other brother, but rather the cheerful heart like the prodigal’s father. Be ready. Glorious renewal is coming.