Chesed

Yesterday we considered several passages of Scripture that demonstrate the faithfulness of God and His unfailing love and presence in our lives. Today I would like for you to consider the word “chesed” which is often translated as lovingkindness.

Here are some notes from A Theological Word Book of the Bible on the word “chesed.”

It is important to realize that though the Hebrew chesed can be translated by loving-kindness and mercy without doing violence to the context, yet we must always beware lest we think that God is content with less than righteousness. There is no reference to any sentimental kindness, and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance, in any case where the Hebrew original is chesed. His demand for righteousness is insistent, and it is always at the maximum intensity. The loving-kindness of God means that his mercy is greater even than that. The word chesed stands for the wonder of his unfailing love for the people of his choice, and the solving of the problem of the relation between his righteousness and his loving-kindness passes beyond human comprehension.

The word is used to contrast man and God.

  • Isaiah 40:6 – Isaiah used chesed (“loveliness”) in the context of man’s lack of steadfastness or strength. The prophet is contrasting man’s frailty with God’s steadfast reliability.
  • Hosea 6:4 – Israel’s chesed was like the morning cloud which goes away. ‘as the morning cloud, and as the dew that goeth early away,’ a regular feature of the Palestinian climate when once the spring rains are past.

God’s loving-kindness is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel’s persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash his hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated loving-kindness.

In light of these thoughts about the “chesed,” the unfailing lovingkindness God, let us pray for God’s “chesed” to be a part of our marriages. May we as men love our wives “just as” Jesus loved us, and may that unfailing lovingkindness flow from our hearts and souls toward our wives.

Interesting thought, when I type “lovingkindness,” it gets underlined in red because it is not part of the dictionary on this program. This term lovingkindness is not familiar to it, but may that not be the case for us in our marriages. Hopefully lovingkindness is part of our “program,” deeply embedded within our souls.

Please, let us make a small upper room

And she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who passes by us regularly. Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall; and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.” (2 Kings 4:9-10)

For today’s MDB, I want to go back to the verses we considered yesterday as we reflected upon the character of the Shunammite woman. This woman demonstrated great humility and contentment, and the Lord rewarded her for it. But for today, I want to consider her husband. Read the above verses and think about the relationship of a husband and a wife. Think about the fact that she could come to her husband with a request, that he listened to her, and he actively supported what she wanted to do.

He was approachable. There are men like Nabal (1 Samuel 25) that were not approachable, but not the husband of this Shunammite woman. They had the kind of marriage where she knew she could come to him with such a request.

He listened to her request. The man could have dismissed her, cut her off, told her her idea was silly or you fill in the blanks. That’s not what happened. They were a team in this marriage, a partnership. He considered her viewpoint, he took time to think about what she was asking. The husband listened to her dreams/visions/plans.

He supported her in what she wanted to do for the Lord. “Let us make…” implies that she wanted him to be a part of this project, too. She didn’t say, “Let me make.” They were a team. It wasn’t, this is “your thing” or “your project,” he was involved also. But to support our wives means more than just writing a check. We need to be emotionally and verbally supportive as well. If he rode her the whole way through the project reminding her of how much it costs and how much of a hassle it is, then that is not supportive, is it? Think about it, she asked her husband to take on a building/remodeling project for a man who would only occasionally come by. I’m sure he could have fired off several practical reasons as to why that wasn’t a good idea, but that’s not what he did. He supported her. That’s what we as husbands need to do, too.

This couple is like the Priscilla and Aquila of the New Testament church (Romans 16:3-5; 1 Corinthians 16:19), who showed great hospitality and sacrifice for the church. They were a team and a partnership working for Jesus, and as husbands that requires that we have the kind of heart like his husband of the Shunammite woman. The heart to be approachable, to listen and to fully support our wives.

5 Love Languages: Physical Touch

I’m currently reading the 5 Love Languages for Men by Dr. Gary Chapman. Click here if you want to purchase the book for yourself.

Dr. Gary Chapman’s famous approach is that we all speak different love languages, and he categorizes them as:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gift Giving
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Today is about Physical Touch

This is certainly a Biblical concept, to show affection by physical touch.

  • An intimate embrace between a husband and wife (Song of Solomon 2:6; 8:3; Genesis 16:5).
  • A husband showing affection to his wife, like Isaac did to Rebekah (Genesis 26:8).
  • According to Solomon, there is a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing (Ecclesiastes 3:5). This tells us that physical touch is important, but it also shows us that we must have wisdom and prudence in when to use it.
  • A mother embracing a son (2 Kings 4:17).
  • A holy kiss as a greeting (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20).
  • Think of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (John 13), and consider how Mary washed Jesus’ feet (John 12).
  • Jesus, as a loving shepherd, holds us in His arms (Isaiah 40:11).

Dr. Gary Chapman once again gives some practical ways to show affection to our wives by physical touch. One important point, before we list some of those practical tips is to remember that not all physical touch is something to lead to the bedroom. If your wife thinks that the only reason you are hugging her is because you want something “more,” she most likely will resent that.

Here are some ways Dr. Chapman suggests that we can communicate affection to our wives through physical touch:

  • Give a hug
  • Hold her hand
  • Put your arm around her
  • Give her a high-five
  • Rubbing her shoulder
  • Playfully wrestling with her
  • Stroking her hair
  • Caress her back
  • Scoot in closer when sitting in a booth at a restaurant.

Again, I encourage you to purchase this book and read it. It is a very helpful guide to encourage us as men to carry out the Lord’s instruction to love our wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5).

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.”
(Eph 5:25-31)

 

5 Love Languages: Acts of Service

I’m currently reading the 5 Love Languages for Men by Dr. Gary Chapman. Click here if you want to purchase the book for yourself.

Dr. Gary Chapman’s famous approach is that we all speak different love languages, and he categorizes them as:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gift Giving
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Today is about Acts of Service

First of all, let’s demonstrate that this “love language” is most certainly Bible-based. Listen to the words of the apostle Paul:

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).

Dr. Chapman mentions three parts to become truly fluent in acts of service.

  1. Impact. Its the idea of working harder, not smarter. Are you listening to what she really needs? Do you hear her talk as to where she really needs the help? You could work all day doing all kinds of chores, and not add a drop to her love tank, Dr. Chapman points out. However, if you make dinner, clean up the kitchen and put the kids to bed, you might overflow her love tank. It comes down to listening to her needs and wants, not serving where you feel the most comfortable serving.
  2. Initiative. Making a list of things you can do for you wife really means nothing until you start DOING things on the list, particularly the things that mean the most to her. This requires drive, discipline and dedication, Dr. Chapman adds. Don’to let this very important to do list get lost under your mountain of paperwork. Think of what that says to your wife and how she will perceive your love and commitment. So, get busy!
  3. Attitude. Have you ever had someone do something for you, but you ended up feeling bad and guilty because of how that person behaved through the whole task? Motive and attitude are everything, aren’t they (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)? We are neither heroes nor martyrs, Dr. Chapman writes. Jesus says we are servants who have merely done our duty (Luke 17:10). So that means we are not trumpeting our good works before others, especially our wives. This is very hard for some of us! When we do that good deed, we want to make sure our wives really know we did the dishes and cleaned the bathroom, but that is contrary to the heart and attitude Jesus wants us to have.

“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly (Matthew 6:1-4).

Pages 80-81 have some great practical tips for acts of service that you can do for your wife. If you have not already purchased this book, please do. It will be a helpful guide in your relationship with your wife. The Bible is of course always the first and best guide, but we also have great help and advice in many other resources like the 5 Love Languages.

 

 

 

 

 

Plumbing the Depths of God’s Love – A Blessed Man

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,

Whose sin is covered.  2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2 NKJV)

The psalm of David begins with the word “blessed” and that is the focus of our thoughts for the day.

First, this word should always awaken our attention because something important about our lives is being communicated to us.  That is certainly the case here!

What does the word “blessed” mean?  Some would translate and use the word “happy” but the word blessed has a richer meaning and has greater depth to it than simply happiness.  Being blessed is not about feeling happy. To be blessed speaks to having a fullness and completeness in this life.  Being blessed means by doing the prescribed actions, one will have an inner joy, peace, and happiness that goes beyond mere feelings and is greater than our physical circumstances.  Simply stated, “Blessed is a state of being”.

Living blessed is to live free in this life and the next. God is not a God of limits.  He is a God of freedom.  Sin is limiting but through our faith in his mercy in Christ Jesus we trust Him to free us from sin.

This idea was evident in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:1-11) when Jesus preached that we are blessed when others insult us and persecute us.  Obviously, insults and persecution do not bring immediate happiness.  Happy would not be the right word here.  Blessed, however, refers to the inner knowledge and joy of knowing we are suffering for the sake of the Lord (1 Pet 4:12-19), though we may not be happy while we endure the pain.  This is a position of strength not a position of weakness or living as a victim to other’s wrong toward us and/or chained to consequences of bad decisions we or others make.  It is a more than conqueror attitude…at it is powerful.

So the question for the day is do you want to be a “better” man or a “blessed” man.  This might seem like a crazy question.  It might seem that they are the same thing or somehow closely related.  Well, being a better man is certainly a good thing and can be tied to being a blessed man.  But the two words are different in this point…if I say I want to be a better man I imply somehow I can make that happen on my own…at least that is how I see it.  If I say I want to be a blessed man, however, I recognized and proclaim the only way I can be anything is with my Heavenly Father and through my Savior Jesus Christ.  That is the only way I can truly be the man those most important to me need to be.

David and Paul (Romans 4) both present the argument that being “blessed” is through our faith in God to forgive us and free us from the power of sin.  We are then free to love others the way God loves them and in the way they need the most.  Blessed is a state of being and position of strength built upon our Rock…Jesus Christ.

Even the world recognizes the importance of a “blessed man” even they don’t know that is what they are describing or looking for.  When asked what a “good man” is…a woman responded:  A good man is not a nice man – he does not do things to be nice, he does things because he has a moral code, a set of values he prioritizes and will always do his best to make sure that his actions are in line with his own personal standards. A good man will not do the easy thing or the convenient thing, or even the thing that he wants to do; he will do what he knows to be the good thing.”

I believe the women in our lives are desperately looking for a “blessed” man…even when they don’t say that to us or make us feel that way.  They are looking for a blessed man.  They need a blessed man.  Be a blessed man.  Recognize the sin in your life…that against God and God alone you have sinned…and go to Him and make that right.  Be a blessed man and people will see it.  Be a blessed man and others will be blessed.

5 Love Languages: Gift Giving

I’m currently reading the 5 Love Languages for Men by Dr. Gary Chapman. Click here if you want to purchase the book for yourself.

Dr. Gary Chapman’s famous approach is that we all speak different love languages, and he categorizes them as:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gift Giving
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Today is about Gift-Giving

Dr. Chapman makes the point about getting the cart before the horse. He reminds us that love is the horse and the cart is the gift. We are not trying to purchase approval, affection and love from our wives by lavishing gifts upon them. Rather we are expressing our love for our beautiful wives by offering visual symbols of that love.

Consider one of the most famous verses in Scripture, John 3:16. It says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” Love comes first, and giving is an expression of His love. God teaches us how to love, and how to give.

One point Dr. Chapman made in this chapter that resonated with me is when he talked about a “dialect” of this particular love language of gift-giving. This dialect is giving the gift of yourself, your presence. When your wife is facing a trial and adversity, the greatest gift you can offer is your presence. No appointment is more pressing than being there to offer support and encouragement for your wife. She will remember whether you were truly there for you.

A practical suggestion Dr. Chapman gives to guys who are getting started on gift-giving is to listen. Yes, listen. Go back in your memory bank and listen. Think of the gifts that your wife really appreciated and what she said as to why she loved those gifts. When your wife received a gift from a family member or close friend and that gift really meant something to her, listen to “why” it meant so much to her. Pay attention to these things because it will help shape your understanding as to what kinds of gifts your wife really wants. Talk to her close friends and family members and ask them for advice.

I encourage you to get this book if you don’t already have it and read this chapter. The last two pages of the chapter have some very practical tips on gifts you can purchase or make for your wife.

5 Love Languages: Quality Time

I’m currently reading the 5 Love Languages for Men by Dr. Gary Chapman. Click here if you want to purchase the book for yourself.

Dr. Gary Chapman’s famous approach is that we all speak different love languages, and he categorizes them as:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Gift Giving
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

Today is about Quality Time. Dr Chapman writes, “Every day, every person who draws breath on this earth receives the same amount of time: 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds, depending on which denomination you prefer.”

We all understand that there are so many pressing demands for our time and attention. It becomes very easy to neglect that quality time with your spouse. But that comes at a high cost, especially if your wife’s primary love language is quality time. How she receives love and feels valued by you is by the time you have spend focused just on her.

Dr. Chapman in his book talks about languages and dialects. Millions of people speak English, but I’m pretty sure we don’t all speak it the same way. Within each love language, Dr. Chapman identifies certain dialects.

In this chapter on quality time, he speaks of two dialects:

  1. Quality Conversation
  2. Quality Activities

Quality Conversation. What would a “quality conversation” look like? Well, you might just sit down and ask your wife what that looks like. Are you maintaining eye contact? When your wife is trying to talk to you are you doing other things (texting, fidgeting, focused on some task, ESPN)? Are you listening to understand her feelings or are you focused on “fixing it”? Did you follow up with questions to try to really understand what she said? Are you interrupting her, or do you let her finish her thought? Do you let her express her feelings freely, even if some of them might be frustrations toward you? In the end, does she feel like you really heard her out? Even better, did you open up about your feelings? Yuk! That’s hard for a lot of guys, but it is a valuable part of intimacy and quality conversation.

Quality Activities. “Make sure all your time and talk isn’t swallowed up by your to-do list,” Dr. Chapman advises. What would a “quality activity” look like? Again, ask your wife, but then again, she probably has already told you. Is there something she is really interested in? Get involved with her in it some way. It may be that she is interested in putting some gardens in outside. Go help her with it, and be fully involved with a great attitude! She may want to see a particular concert; so go get two tickets and plan an evening together. Maybe a weekend away from the house and kids is just the ticket. Or, I know for my wife Anna it may mean that I don’t think of some big fancy vacation, but look for the “little things,” like sitting on the porch swing with her with a cup of coffee and just talk.

Please get Dr. Chapman’s book if you don’t already have it. There are all kinds of valuable, practical suggestions in the book. Your marriage is worth it, men!

5 Love Languages: Words of Affirmation

I’m currently reading the 5 Love Languages for Men by Gary Chapman. Click here if you want to purchase the book for yourself.

Gary Chapman’s famous approach is that we all speak different love languages, and he categorizes them as:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Take the test, if you have not already, to see your love language. This is really important to learn because we all communicate in different languages, and I may want to tell my wife that I love her through acts of service or gifts, but what she may really be looking for is words of affirmation.

Words of Affirmation

This is truly a Biblical concept. Here are a few passages to show the Biblical basis for learning this love language.

A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is! (Proverbs 15:23)

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).

There are many other verses we could use, but these two set the stage for how important it is to learn to speak words of affirmation to our wives.

A good word spoken at the right time, Solomon said, how good it is! Take that into consideration in your own life. Can you think of times that someone said just the right words of encouragement just when you needed them? It just makes our day!

Take some time today to think of some encouraging words that you can say genuinely to your wife. Praise her appearance. Find great traits about her character and personality and point those out to her.

Gary Chapman recommends that we also do this in front of friends, family and co-workers. We all hear things through “the grapevine,” so how wonderful will it be that your wife hears that you are praising and complimenting her behind her back?

Find creative ways to affirm her. Think outside the box.

The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:23-24).

Why have I found favor in your eyes?

Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?” (Ruth 2:10)

Ruth wants to know why Boaz took notice of her. Why me? That is a great question to consider. What was it about Ruth that grabbed the attention of Boaz? It certainly wasn’t her money, she was a poor widow. It wasn’t her nationality, she was from Moab, which was called God’s washpot (Psalm 60:8). Do we know anything about the physical appearance of Ruth? Not much. We know that she was “young” (Ruth 2:5). She must have been physically strong, if you consider how hard she worked in the fields (Ruth 2:7,17). Other people in Scripture (Rachel, Joseph, Absalom, David, Saul, Esther, etc.) are described as attractive, but we do not have such a description of Ruth.

What Boaz saw in Ruth is worthy of our consideration, men. This is to you, single men, as you are praying and seeking for a wife with whom you will spend the rest of your days. Boaz saw some great qualities in Ruth.

Why have I found favor in your eyes?

He saw a servant-hearted woman

And Boaz answered and said to her, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before…”(Ruth 2:11).

He saw a woman who fully gave her life to God

“The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (Ruth 2:12).

He saw a kind woman with the right priorities

Then he said, “Blessed are you of the LORD, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich…” (Ruth 3:10).

He saw a virtuous woman

And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman (Ruth 3:11).

So, single guys, take the example of Boaz today and meditate upon it. Ask yourself, am I considering these qualities first when looking to find a wife?

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised (Proverbs 31:30).

Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD (Proverbs 19:14).

For the man will not rest

She replied, “Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today” (Ruth 3:18).

Naomi, in the middle of giving advice to her daughter-in-law Ruth, makes a statement about the character of Boaz.

“For the man will not rest but will settle the matter today…”

I believe that is a wonderful testimony to Boaz’ character. Naomi knew that Boaz was the kind of man who would keep his word and get the job done. He would follow through on his commitments.

This is a good example for husbands to follow. In our homes, we need to be men like Boaz and give our wives the security and peace knowing that when we commit to something, it is going to get done.

Think for a moment about what value we are placing on our wives when we keep telling them something is going to get done and we don’t follow through. Consider the position we put our wives in when they ask us to do something, and we say we’ll do it, but they have to remind us constantly. Then we accuse them of nagging us, but we put them in that position in the first place. On top of that, we then drop everything to go help a neighbor or a buddy finish a project while the one we said we would get done months ago still remains unfinished. What does that say to our wives? Or, we may say that we don’t have money to finish the project, but then found the same amount of money or more to go do something we wanted to do. These things all speak loudly to our wives and tell her where she rates on our scale. We may not like it, but that’s how many wives see it.

Please take time to prayerfully meditate upon the example of Boaz today. He committed to a task, and Naomi assured Ruth that Boaz would not rest until the matter was settled. This brings great peace and reassurance in a marriage. We will finish what we start.

Sometimes we make commitments too quickly and that is part of the problem. Other times we don’t “count the cost” before we say we’ll do something, so we need not to be so impulsive and do some research and prayer first! In those cases, you may need to eat some humble pie and apologize. But then there are other times when we just get tired, or frustrated, distracted, confused or bored with a project and so we move on to something else. There may be times when we need to ask a friend to help us with a project so that we can get it finished.

Let’s be a Boaz, men. Be the kind of man that your wife can count on, knowing that you will get the job done.