Lavished!

 

under tree

During this Christmas week, let’s turn our eyes to the love God lavishes on us. Last week, we looked at the beauty of God’s love as expressed in the Hebrew word, Hesed.  This unique term portrays the Lord’s love for us in such a gracious and powerful way in the Old Testament, yet in the New Testament (which was written in Greek) we see another descriptive word identifying God’s love.

The Greek language has several different words for love: eros which is sensual or passionate love, philia which represents brotherly love, and storge denotes a natural affection. Yet it is the term agape which expresses a strong, altruistic and sacrificial, God-type love.

The apostle Paul elaborated on agape love in his first letter to the Corinthians. Perhaps you are familiar with his description, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” What a beautiful picture of how we are loved by God!

Now we tend to throw the word love around to mean all sorts of frivolous things:

“Oh I love your new outfit!”

“I love cake-mix-flavored frozen yogurt with sprinkles on top.”

“I love the beach.”

“I love this new book!”

What we typically mean is that we really, really, really like something or feel a type of surface-level affection for it. Sometimes we equate love with how we’ve been treated by a parent or a friend or spouse. But God’s love is beyond what we see in human affection. When we examine the definition of love that Paul gave us, we see a love defined beyond this world. We can scarcely comprehend the depth of God’s love. Earthly comparisons of altruistic love leave us lacking in the understanding of the height and breadth of the love of God.

Unfathomable love! John, the disciple who called himself “the beloved one,” wanted Christ’s followers to know how wonderfully loved they are by the Father.  To God’s beloved children (that’s you and me) John wrote:

 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  I John 3:1

 

Lavished! Did you catch that word? Lavished; bestowed profusely. God is not guarded or stingy when it comes to His love for us. His love pours out in generous measure. Stop and drink this truth from John into your heart. Allow it to permeate your being. You are lavishly loved with the sincerest, most powerful love imaginable.

That’s what Christmas is all about, God lavishing His love upon us by sending His only Son Jesus into this world, so that He could offer His life for us. What great love! What an unspeakable gift! Thank you Lord for your agape love for us! We celebrate you this Christmas!

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This blog is an excerpt from Unfailing Love. To learn more about this book and the $5 special this month click here.

Unfailing Love

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Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens,
   your faithfulness to the skies.
 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
   your justice like the great deep.
Psalm 36:5

 

The unique and beautiful term David used in this Psalm to express God’s love was the Hebrew word  Hesed.  This is a very rich word; rich with depth and meaning and truth. Hesed  is considered one of the most important terms in Old Testament theology and ethics. It has three basic meanings which all interact together: strength, steadfastness, and love.

The word Hesed cannot be fully understood unless all three of the meanings are incorporated. Generally the word “love” carries a bit of light hearted, fluffy affection, but when we put love together with steadfastness and strength we understand the enduring nature of God’s Hesed – type of love, even toward those who seem weak or undeserving.

Hesed implies loyalty, mercy and generosity. It also infers personal involvement and commitment beyond what the law requires. For example, a husband and wife are legally bound to each other, yet their relationship transcends the legal document and represents a bond and commitment to each other. The prophet Hosea spoke of the Hesed between God and His people, “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD,” Hosea 2:19-20.

Not only does God demonstrate this enduring love and kindness, He wants us to know and  understand His hesed love for us. Consider the words God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah saying:

This is what the LORD says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness (hesed),
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23,24

This Holiday season, my prayer for you is that you will experience the comfort and joy of His Unfailing Love for you.

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This blog is an excerpt from Unfailing Love. To learn more about this book and the $5 special this month click here.

 

Photo at the beginning of this blog is by Chris Meads on Unsplash