A stubborn lover…
Most Bible students are quite familiar with the Greek terms in the New Testament for love. The most prominent of them is “agape,” which denotes unconditional self-giving. It’s this kind of love that God displays to us, deposits in us, and demands of us. It’s the ultimate unselfishness, the deepest regard for another, even when the lover receives no reciprocation of his love in return. It’s the riskiest of loves, the one that “lays down its life for its friends.”
There’s another term for love used a bunch in the Old Testament – “Hesed.” (The “h” has that guttural sound that you make when you’re getting ready to spit. You should practice saying it only when alone and with a tissue in hand.) Pronunciation aside, “hesed” is God’s stubborn, relentless, unrestrained, and insistent love. Hesed is when you refuse to give up loving, even when you have every reason to. That’s the way God loves. When he’s rejected, when his proposal is refused, when his overtures are all rebuffed; he keeps on “hesed-ing” and “agape-ing!” He’s a stubborn lover!
A jealous lover…
- Keep yourselves in the love of God… Jude 21
- If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love… John 15:10
- I am a jealous God… Exodus 20:5
- The Spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely… James 4:5
Does it seem strange that the Lord is a jealous lover and that jealousy is an iniquity for us but a quality for God? It’s because he knows that what’s best for us is him! It’s only right that he should hate it when we prefer another above (or instead of) him. When we fail to reciprocate his love, it’s not as though we love nothing at all; we become enamored with something else. He’s jealous when we find alternatives with which to share our affection.
On the other hand, when returned, God’s agape is a source of limitless joy to him. When his passion is mutually shared by his beloved, he sings and dances over us. Eternal love in its width, length, height, and depth – received and reciprocated – is his free-will experiment is all about. Mutually enjoyed divine love is the highest and purest of life now and forever!
[More on the way he loves next time…]