Monday, January 26, 2009

40 Days of cHesed—Day 16

Day 16 What Matters Most

Up to this point, we’ve used rather broad strokes to introduce you to the concept of covenant keeping. And just as it was the “main thing” in Day 10, it is “what matters most” today.

Last week we worked to widen our concept of worship to include expression of our love for God by how we love each other. This is important because God always meant for us to have dynamic relationships with each other as a result of our dynamic relationship with him. That’s the whole point of having a covenant.

So this week we’re going to introduce you to a word that may be new to you—or that you’ve heard but didn’t understand. It is the Hebrew word cHesed (pronounced HEH sed, with that guttural ch sound). [I’m going to leave the “c” the rest of the time—it okay with either spelling.]

The only reason we use a foreign word in our daily speech is if there is no way to translate it clearly into English. Hesed is such a word. It is the root of what we have been calling covenant keeping and is quite complex and deep in meaning. Hesed basically means to promote the best interest of your partners, according to the terms of the covenant. Clear as mud, right?

So, you ask again, what does hesed mean and where can you find it in the Bible?

The English words used to translate hesed most frequently are love, grace and mercy. They describe the attitudes that encourage you to promote the best interest of your covenant partners. They are words that show restraint of self in order to show favor to another. That’s half of hesed.

Words that Jesus used to describe the actions that are to be prompted by our love, grace and mercy are serve, submit and lead (initiate good). That’s the other half of hesed.

Hesed, then, means to serve, submit and lead with love, grace and mercy. This is how Jesus acted toward God and man. This is how we are to act toward God and each other. If we do this, we are keeping the terms of the covenant. Now, when you read in the New Testament that we are to do these actions and have these attitudes, you’ll know you are reading about hesed—covenant keeping.

Now you know why we like to use this unusual word—it brings this amazing concept to mind. With some practice, it will for you, too.

Today’s Look at 1 John

Read 1 John 2:18 through 3:10. While you’re reading, notice the importance of remaining and continuing. Look for signs of hesed in actions and attitudes.

Keep Breathing!

You’re doing great! Two weeks of inviting God to spend the day with you. One week of including God in your conversations and activities. Today, you’re looking for power to pedal by inviting God to fill you with the Holy Spirit so that you will be able to remain on target and faithful to God’s purpose.

Flash—the Holy Spirit is part of God’s hesed for us! That is why you can keep going—even if you think you can’t move another inch! The Holy Spirit keeps the pedals moving. (See Romans 8:26!)

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