Chesed

Throughout the Bible there are many verses that refer to God’s “loving-kindness.” When I was in my first year of EfM I learned that this is a translation of the Jewish word, chesed. As with most anything translated, it’s not exact. The word chesed refers to God’s mercy, kindness, steadfast love, and grace towards his people. The connotation is one of unwavering devotion, that despite what the object of the chesed does or says, the chesed remains.

This steadfastness of God is contrasted with man’s utter lack of it. Isaiah makes the keen observation, “All flesh is grass, and all its chesed is like the flower of the field.” (Isaiah 40:6) This inability for mankind to love consistently adds a new layer to God’s chesed toward us, for as we continue to rebel and He continues to remain faithful, we force into the equation, grace. To love something that doesn’t deserve love, that is grace. To not destroy something that ought to be destroyed, that is mercy. Because of our waywardness, God’s chesed incorporates both mercy and grace, so in Him we have life and favor.

When we do things out of love and compassion we extend this chesed to others. We are called to do so, as much as we can, in our Christian lives. I loved this idea of being both a receiver and a giver of this chesed that I got a tattoo that, to me, represents this concept. It’s the trinity symbol with a heart on the inside of my left wrist. I placed it there so that I would see it often, that I would be reminded of God’s chesed and how I am called to extend it to others.

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One response to “Chesed

  1. The best explanation distinguishing justice, mercy and grace that I’ve heard in a while goes something like this:
    Imagine you have a son and someone kills him.
    If you seek justice, you would do everything in your power to see that his killer is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, even to death.
    If you seek mercy, you would plead for leniency on your son’s killer’s behalf.
    If you bestow grace, you would take in your son’s killer and care for him as your own.
    This is what God’s grace has done for us – taken us in as his own, even after killing Jesus on the cross. It’s a little heavy-handed for a metaphor, but compelling nevertheless.

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