The ‘House of the Nazarene’ is an international non-denominational movement and is an evangelical part of the Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
When Yeshua was asked which commandment was the greatest in the Law, He said that the first was to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. The second, He said, was like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
“I will tell of the LORD’s unfailing love [chesed]. I will praise the LORD for all He has done. I will rejoice in His great goodness to Israel, which He has granted according to His mercy and love [chesed].” (Isaiah 63:7)
He was reiterating two core commandments of Judaism on which the Law hangs. In Leviticus 19:18, where this law is stated, the verb translated love is ahav. It is an active verb; in other words, love is an action.
Interestingly enough, in order to effectively love our neighbor, we must love ourselves. If we consider ourselves undeserving, we likely will treat others that way or set ourselves up to be treated that way. So it would seem that our capacity to love our neighbor might be limited by how well we value ourselves.
If we detect that we have an ungodly view of ourselves, let’s ask God to help us see ourselves as He does. Only when we do so can we be transformed into a person who gives and receives an even higher form of love, chesed (חסד).
This other Hebrew word for “love” is more difficult to translate into English. Chesed is a love that cannot be sentimentalized; it has the attributes of strength, steadfastness, loyalty and devotion that stem from a covenant between God and man or between men.
It has been translated as loving-kindness, mercy, steadfast love, compassion, loyalty, goodness, great kindness, favor and loyal or leal-love (To make true; confirm as true. Loyally. Thoroughly; exactly. Lawfully.)
The Chesed of Adonai
“The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in loving-kindness [chesed]” (Psalm 145:8; see Exodus 34:6–7)
In Judaism, chesed is considered one of the thirteen attributes of God. The Jewish sages derived this idea from God’s revelation of Himself to Moses (Exodus 34:6–7).
This attribute is akin to John’s description of God’s love: “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7–8)
Chesed has been described as a “life-long love” that is based on a covenantal relationship — “a steadfast, rock-solid faithfulness that endures to eternity:
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love [chesed] for you will not be shaken” (Isaiah 54:10)
Chesed is a form of love that extends beyond any sin or betrayal to heal the brokenhearted and to graciously extend forgiveness: “No one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love [chesed]” (Lamentations 3:31–32)
Chesed, in fact, is God’s kind of love.
The Bible scholar John Oswalt points to chesed as it is used to describe God in the Tanakh (Exodus 34:6) as an example of “completely undeserved kindness and generosity” granted by one who is in a position of power.
He notes how God came to the Hebrew people even though they were not seeking Him and how He was true to His covenant with Abraham even though they continually broke it.
In Oswalt’s words: “Unlike humans, this deity was not fickle, undependable, self-serving, and grasping. Instead, He was faithful, true, upright, and generous — always”
Scripture reveals many instances of God’s chesed in action. In Genesis 24:27, Abraham’s servant managed to miraculously find a wife for Isaac. The servant recognizes God’s faithfulness and grace (a related concept in the New Covenant). He describes Him as one “who has not abandoned His kindness [chesed] and faithfulness to my master”
The covenant aspect of chesed is witnessed in God’s steadfast love toward Israel. Although Israel is not always faithful, God is. He will not let Israel go.
One cannot live in Israel or see what Israel is going through without being aware of God’s chesed, and it is this chesed that preserves a nation whose enemies outnumber it by a ratio of 250 to 1.
While many men and women have witnessed God’s miraculous interventions in battle, simply getting through each day is proof enough of His chesed in a country that is constantly at war. Because of that, many so-called hilonim or secular Jewish citizens are also aware of God’s existence and of His grace and loving-kindness over Israel.
God’s love for the Jewish People is a true wonder.
Chesed does not dismiss the need for holiness and righteousness but, mercifully, despite failings on the part of the Jewish People and us, makes a way through unmerited kindness toward love for His covenant.
In fact, chesed is quite often paired with the Hebrew word translated mercy and compassion: rachum. (see Isaiah 54:8; 63:7; Lamentations 3:22)
“And I will betroth you to Me forever, and I will betroth you to Me with righteousness and with justice and with loving-kindness [chesed] and with mercy [rachum]. And I will betroth you to Me with faith, and you shall know the Lord” (Hosea 2:19–20 [21–22])
“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but my loving-kindness [chesed] will not be removed from you, and my covenant of peace will not be shaken, … says the LORD who has compassion [rachum] on you” (Isaiah 54:10)
The Extravagance of Chesed
“For Your loving-kindness [chesed] is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth.” (Psalm 26:3)
The Hebrew word chesed also appears in Leviticus 20:17 where the Law states that a man who uncovers the nakedness of his sister has committed a chesed: here it is translated as a disgrace.
In writing “chesed,” it suggests that the man has crossed a divine line, giving chesed the added sense of being “characterized by overflowing and lack of boundaries.” (Aish)
In this case, chesed is given a negative connotation. But when holiness is the connotation, the intent is that the one who loves does so without boundaries — an act of love characterized by overflowing grace, mercy, and giving.
With this kind of love, there is no thought of “what’s in it for me?”
Ruth 1:8–20 gives us an example of chesed. When Naomi decided to return to Israel after her husband and sons died, her daughters-in-law were faced with a decision: go back to Moab or go to Israel.
“Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show you kindness, as you have shown kindness [chesed] to your dead husbands and to me.’” (Ruth 1:8)
Orpah went back to Moab, but Ruth went with Naomi and gleaned in the fields of Israel to look after her needs. This was more than just kindness. She demonstrated chesed, a loyal love that goes beyond the requirement of familial duty.
While in Israel, Ruth did not go after young men but married Boaz as a way to help her mother-in-law.
We see here that chesed goes beyond the call of duty, beyond compliance with contracts. It is extravagant.
It is not dependent upon feelings or mood; it is something that we do to provide for what another person needs. It is motivated by compassion and ahava (love).
“‘The LORD bless you, my daughter,’ he replied. ‘This kindness [chesed] is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor.'” (Ruth 3:10)
The Mitzvah of Gemilut Chassadim
“O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy [chesed] endures for ever.” (Psalm 136:1)
Jewish tradition teaches that to be a chasid (pious one), we must acquire the attribute of chesed (chasid comes from the word chesed). More simply put, chesed should characterize the lives of those who know God.
Chesed is a core pillar of human behavior; as Pirkei Avot 1:2 states, the world rests upon three things: Torah, avodat (divine service: i.e. sacrifices, prayer), and Gemilut Chassadim (giving of chesed).
Gemilut Chassidim is the performance of acts of loving-kindness.
Although the performance of the mitzvah (command) of tzedakah is usually the giving of money to the poor, Gemilut Chassidim is the performance of loving-kindness (usually personal service) for anyone. This concept is very broad and includes all relationships between people. (Chabad)
The following are examples of the personal obligations covered by this term:
grant free loans (of money or any other object);
visit and comfort the sick;
give clothing to those in need thereof;
assist and gladden brides and grooms;
attend to matters of the dead;
reconcile those who are at odds with each other.
In performing these Chassadim (plural of chesed), the rabbis say we are emulating God on earth.
Though none of these acts are specifically commanded in the Torah, the rabbis point to certain Scriptures that suggest God desires these actions:
“As God clothes the naked [Genesis 3:21]… as God visits the sick [Genesis 18:1]… as God comforts mourners [Genesis 25:11]… as God attends the dead [Deuteronomy 34:6]… as God attends brides and grooms… so you are to do also” (Sotah 14a; Sifre, Eikev, par. 49; Midrash Tehilim 25:10; Kohelet Rabba 7:6f; Pirke deR. Eliezer 12 and 16f; Avot deR. Nathan ch.4; Hilkhot Avel 14:1)
While tzedakah (charity) refers to the fulfillment of the most basic obligation or commandments, chesed speaks of voluntary excess of giving.
Chesed is an overflow of beneficence toward someone who has no rights at all to claim it from us, as well as an overflow of beneficence toward someone who deserves it but in a greater measure than he deserves. (Chabad)
Performing chesed is not merely a traditional duty. It can have a powerful redemptive effect on those who feel no worth of their own, those who are often shunned and shamed by their community.
“Through acts of chesed (supported by tzedakah) where you treat someone like a human being, b’tselem Elohim (in the image of God), with the respect they deserve, that person can be restored to the community. He or she can overcome the stigma of poverty, frailty, disease, or loneliness and can themselves become engaged, empowered actors of chesed.” (My Jewish Learning)
We see this principle of chesed effectively at work in many Bible-based recovery programs where even momentary sobriety is celebrated by lavish acts of grace and kindness that are only possible when one sees the value that God has placed in another.
And we see this principle of chesed at work in the redemption of our sins through Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) who lavishly gave up His own life to become the perfect sacrifice so that we can be restored back to God as heirs, sons, and daughters, of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.” (1 John 4:9)
May each of us strive to know God’s chesed toward us, to value ourselves as He values us so we can freely share His chesed with others.
When we perform chesed, we trigger awareness of God’s chesed, which has the power to change someone’s life for the better.
“I desired chesed and not sacrifice, and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
“Because the LORD loved you and kept the oath He swore to your ancestors that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery…. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.” (Deuteronomy 7:8–9)
God loves Israel and has an irrevocable covenant with them. Jesus loves us and has an irrevocable covenant with us. Please be a part of His end-time plan for the complete restoration of this nation, by helping us bring the love of God to Israel and all the nations.
An Ordained Anointed Minister of Jesus Christ to Minister His Gospel, to this online Church; House of the Nazarene, To spread the Good News of Salvation to the four corners of the Earth.
All Christians have, in profession at least, received Jesus Christ the Lord, consented to him, and taken him for theirs. We cannot be built up in Christ, or grow in him, unless we are first rooted in him, or founded upon him. Being established in the faith, we must abound therein, and improve in it more and more. God justly withdraws this benefit from those who do not receive it with thanksgiving; and gratitude for his mercies is justly required by God.
There is a philosophy which rightly exercises our reasonable faculties; a study of the works of God, which leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful; and while it pleases men's fancies, hinders their faith: such are curious speculations about things above us, or no concern to us. Those who walk in the way of the world, are turned from following Christ. We have in Him the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law. All the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by his complete sacrifice for sin, and by the revelation of the will of God.
To be complete, is to be furnished with all things necessary for salvation. By this one word “complete,” is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. “In him,” not when we look to Christ, as though he were distant from us, but we are in him, when, by the power of the Spirit, we have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head. The circumcision of the heart, the crucifixion of the flesh, the death and burial to sin and to the world, and the resurrection to newness of life, set forth in baptism, and by faith wrought in our hearts, prove that our sins are forgiven, and that we are fully delivered from the curse of the law.
Through Christ, we, who were dead in sins, are quickened. Christ's death was the death of our sins; Christ's resurrection is the quickening of our souls. The law of ordinances, which was a yoke to the Jews, and a partition-wall to the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus took out of the way. When the substance was come, the shadows fled. Since every mortal man is, through the hand-writing of the law, guilty of death, how very dreadful is the condition of the ungodly and unholy, who trample under foot that blood of the Son of God, whereby alone this deadly hand-writing can be blotted out! Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities.
The setting apart a portion of our time for the worship and service of God, is a moral and unchangeable duty, but had no necessary dependence upon the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath of the Jews. The first day of the week, or the Lord's day, is the time kept holy by Christians, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. All the Jewish rites were shadows of gospel blessings.
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