Farmville Enterprise March 6, 2019
One of the best words in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word “hesed” or “chesed.” It is difficult to wrap up that word into just one word in English. Some biblical scholars translate it as lovingkindness, steadfast love or covenant faithfulness. The word shows us that God is completely loving and totally trustworthy.
“The steadfast love (hesed) of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
“… but with everlasting kindness (hesed) I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your Redeemer.” (Isaiah 54:8)
R.C. Sproul, Jr. writes, “There may be no more significant Old Testament description of how God relates to His people than this Hebrew word ‘hesed.’ I argue that the best translation of this term would be ‘loyal love.’ God loves His people genuinely, immutably, loyally. Both the love and the loyalty are, of course, tightly bound together. That is, just as one cannot love capriciously so one cannot be loyal without love. God is for His people, and will never cease to be for them. Our calling is to reflect that reality. Our loyalty and our love, grounded in our loyal love toward Him who loved us loyally first, ought to be toward both what it is we believe, and those with whom we believe it. Too often we fail one way or another.”
In 1 John 4:19-21 the apostle John writes, “We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or a sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
Because God initiated and continues in love for us, we also can and must love one another. Apart from God our efforts at love fall flat. Through the Holy Spirit we are able to love both the lovable and the unlovable. Often the church is called the “family of God” and we are called to demonstrate this genuine, loyal love to one another.
As Sproul concludes, “Loyal love remains faithful to both the Word of God and the people of God. Loyal love looks to the church not as a provider of religious services, but as the body of our Lord, our family. Some translate ‘hesed’ as covenant love. Here we remember that family is not just emotional connections that can come and go, but family is binding. Family is commitment.”