“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6)
The Good Shepherd is pleased with us. He enjoys watching over His sheep. Why? Because He loves them! This verse reveals the motivation behind everything that the Shepherd does for us. The reason He takes us into the green pasture and beside the still water is because He loves us. His love for us is why He walks with us through the valley. It is an unconditional love that is behind His care, His guidance and His discipline. He prepares a table for you because…yes, that’s right…He loves you.
The song we learned as children says it simply;
“Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.”
Each time I get the privilege to lead the chapel for our Tiny Tots preschool, I remind the children that the Bible tells us that God made us…God loves us…and God wants to take care of us. Isn’t that the same message that we receive from Psalm 23? And, isn’t it the same message that we see in the cross of Jesus on Calvary? It is His great love for us that motivated our Savior to give up His life. This, again, is what makes Him the Good Shepherd. He lays down His life for His sheep.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14, 15)
It is hard to grasp a love that is unconditional. In our insecurity we wrestle with the fear, “Yes, he says he loves me, but if he really knew me…”. In many of our relationships we worry about being rejected or about meeting the expectations of those we care about. That is why I love the words of Jesus in this verse in the Gospel of John. Did you hear it? Jesus says,
“I know my own”.
Child of God, you don’t have to worry about the Shepherd finding out about your flaws and weaknesses. He already knows! He knows you better than you know yourself and He loves you despite your imperfections. Remember…He made you. He loves you because of who He is not because of who you are or “are not”. He loved us “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8). It is clear in one of the most beloved verses in the Bible,
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Did you see it? God so loved the world…the sinful, lost, rebellious world. His love preceded His work! He did not wait for the world to “get it’s act together”. There are no qualifications or requirements that are needed. No one is worthy of so great a mercy and grace, and yet…He loves us. He is not waiting for you to be perfect. He knows your life is a mess.
The word translated as “love” in this verse is “mercy” in some translations. That is not inaccurate since the word can be used either way. Whatever way it is translated it implies the other as well. Mercy and forgiveness is a result of genuine love. Conversely, love shows itself in mercy. The Scripture tells us that you can’t have one without the other. This truth was illustrated on the cross. It not only demonstrates God’s love for us, but makes it possible for us to receive mercy and forgiveness.
Our salvation is motivated and preceded by love. God enjoys taking care of us because He loves us. And that love will follow you all the days of your life. It is relentless. It is a love that will not quit. He will not let you go.
“I will never leave you or forsake you”