Saturday, January 4, 2014

His lovingkindness, O how free!

And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him. James 1:5 (J. B. Phillips)

I have to remember that the accuser is Satan.

One of my childhood Sunday School stories was about Jesus standing by the Judgment Seat, and as my sins were highlighted and listed in full detail, Jesus would say, “I died for that one. I died for that one too. Look, I died for each of these sins. Every one.” And while this is true, it made God seem Big and Dark and With a Furrowed Disgusted Brow Pointing His Finger at Me.

But God so loved me that He sent His only Son. He is the One who justifies. Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And His love is not weak and small like my human love. Because He is love. It is His very nature and essence and it is big enough for anything.

Even my foolishness and guilt.

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds that we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy,

Lovingkindness. Which doesn’t make it through human spellcheck. Because it is all about Him, a word He is.

In general, one may identify three basic meanings of hesed, and these three meanings always interact -- strengthsteadfastness, and love. Any understanding of hesed that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness. Love by itself easily becomes sentimentalized or universalized apart from the covenant. Yet strength or steadfastness suggests only the fulfillment of a legal (or similar) obligation. Hesed refers primarily to mutual and reciprocal rights and obligations between the parties of a relationship. But hesed is not only a matter of obligation but is also of generosity. It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. Hesed implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law.