North America (MNN) — Good Friday: while the specific date changes from year to year, the meaning never does. Good Friday represents Jesus’ willing sacrifice on behalf of mankind.
According to Set Free Ministries’ Dean Vander Mey, Christ’s motive on the cross should be ours, too. “That’s hesed love: laying your life down for others,” he states.
“If we’re going to actually follow the Master, are we willing lay our lives down for others? Are we willing to lay our agendas down?”
As explained here, “hesed” is a Hebrew action word used to describe God’s love. To biblical scholar John Oswalt, hesed is more than a descriptive verb. It’s part of God Himself:
This was the Israelites’ experience of God. He revealed himself to them when they were not looking for him, and he kept his covenant with them long after their persistent breaking of it had destroyed any reason for his continued keeping of it. …Unlike humans, this deity was not fickle, undependable, self-serving, and grasping. Instead, he was faithful, true, upright, and generous — always.
Just as God has multiple characteristics, there are numerous facets of hesed love. One is sacrifice, as embodied by Christ on the cross; another is undeserved mercy. Vander Mey points to Stephen in Acts 7 as an example.
“Stephen, when he’s being stoned, what’s he doing? He’s praying for Saul of Tarsus – a terrorist of the day who thinks he’s serving God by killing Christians.”
What will you choose?
In a North American context, loving like God does – hesed – probably won’t involve physical death. However, it does mean extending kindness to people who don’t deserve it. Start with the people who’ve hurt you. Set Free Ministries can help you take the first step.
Loving these individuals does not mean accepting or approving their harmful choices, Vander Mey clarifies.
“You can hold a hard line and love well, but it does not mean you compromise the truth,” he explains. “Jesus is full of grace and full of truth. Truth does not negotiate with evil.”
If you want to turn concept into reality, Vander Mey says, start with prayer. Then, keep your eyes open.
“God is going to give you opportunities to experience hesed love the way He does it. Then, you’re going to be tested on how you’re going to respond,” Vander Mey states.
“Information is not transformation. Jesus said it best in Matthew 7: ‘those who hear My words and do not do them, that is the house built on sand.’ It will collapse.”
Header image obtained via Pixabay.