For years, I’ve heard the term lovingkindness. It sounds like something we might read on a Dayspring card or sing about sentimentally over a campfire.
For most of us, it’s a church word we throw around but don’t really know about when pressed.
There’s incredible depth to God’s lovingkindness. God’s entire relationship to us is rooted in his lovingkindness. It’s threaded all through the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New.
Even when life feels neither loving nor kind, God’s lovingkindness is for you.
Here are 12 ways God’s lovingkindness is for you.
The Hebrew word is hesed. (You pronounce that h- like you’re clearing the back of your throat.)
Here we are twice handicapped.
First, the word is foreign and there’s no English equivalent, so the full breadth of hesed remains elusive in our translations.
Second, we are finite. This side of heaven, we can’t fully comprehend God’s hesed. But what God reveals to us in his word is ours and that’s where we begin.
1.Hesed is way more than kindness.
Because no single English word can adequately encompass hesed, the Bible translates it as love, kindness, lovingkindness, goodness, favor, mercy, unfailing love, faithful love, steadfast love and unfailing kindness.
As we read the Bible, we need to remember that God’s hesed is all of these, all at once.
2. Hesed is who God is.
God’s lovingkindness is part of his character and because of that, it never changes. His lovingkindness is never less on one day or more for someone else. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God tucked him into a cleft on Mt. Sinai and passed by proclaiming himself: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love (hesed) and faithfulness, maintaining love (hesed) to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin….” Ex 34:6-7
We only know hesed by knowing God.
3. Hesed is not a passive feeling but proactive faithfulness.
Hesed is not a mood or emotion but God’s faithful love in action. “All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love (hesed) and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.” Psalm 25:10
God’s hesed includes acting FOR us and responding TO us.
4. Hesed is undeserved kindness from One in power to one who is weak.
God bends down to give unmerited kindness to us in our weakness. Jacob saw this when he returned with flocks, herds, wives and sons to meet Esau. “I am unworthy of all the kindness (hesed) and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps.” Genesis 32:9
God’s hesed never depends on whether we’re good enough.
5. We can never go where God’s hesed is not.
God’s hesed is unfailing. It is faithful, when we are faithless. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love (hesed) for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
This day, right now, God’s hesed for you is at work.
6. We can never reach the limit of God’s hesed.
That’s why the Bible often describes God’s hesed as abounding and abundant. It’s generous and limitless; sufficient for each of us and for all us. “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love (hesed) to all who call to you.” Psalm 86:5
God’s hesed is deeper than the deepest pain.
7. We’re saved because of God’s hesed.
Why did Christ die for sinners? Not because we deserved it but because of his great love. “It’s because of the Lord’s great love (hesed) we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22
God’s hesed means life now and life eternally.
8. We’re sustained in suffering by God’s hesed.
God’s hesed – his steadfast love – doesn’t give us a pass on suffering. Rather, it holds us IN suffering. Even in difficulty, we can see signs of God’s goodness all around us. “But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness (hesed) to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.” Genesis 39:21
God’s hesed isn’t deterred by suffering but displayed in it.
9. We can pray for help based on his hesed.
When we cry out to God, we can be sure he hears and answers because of his loyal love. This is all over the Psalms and throughout the Old Testament. “Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love (hesed).” Psalm 44:26
Prayers based on God’s hesed are prayers in his will.
10. We’re to glorify God for his hesed.
How could we stay silent? God’s hesed gives us deliverance, redemption, relationship, guidance, forgiveness, hope and security. “Because your love (hesed) is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” Psalm 63:3
Gratitude helps us see God’s hesed and glorify him for it.
11. We’re to tell about God’s hesed.
How could we keep it to ourselves? “I will sing of the Lord’s great love (hesed) forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations.” Psalm 89:1
God’s hesed in your life is a story worth sharing.
12. We’re called to show hesed.
God tells us to imitate Christ as beloved children. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy (hesed) and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
What God pours into us, we’re to pour out to others.
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