Lent Thoughts for March 21



from James D. Hernando

“…Finally, we maintain that God’s love endures. In the Old Testament the word for God’s covenant love is hesed, and numerous times it is declared to be “everlasting.”5 Hesed is Jehovah’s steadfast and enduring love for His covenant people. This love pursued Israel throughout her endless cycles of rebellion. As Isaiah wrote, “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people” (Isaiah 65:2).

This same love was expressed in Jesus who “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). What should be noted is that the cross merely climaxes Jesus’ entire life of obedience to the will of God. Paul tells us this obedience began with His incarnation–“being made in the likeness of men . . . He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7,8). The author of Hebrews tells us “He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (5:8). Later the same writer would encourage his readers with the example of Jesus, “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart” (12:3).

While we acknowledge that love sent Jesus to the cross for us, let us remember the nature of that love–an enduring love. Let those of us who aspire to evince God’s love in our lives take inventory. What is the staying power of our love? How far are we willing to go in loving, in forbearing, and restoring one another? To what extent will we go to reach the lost for Christ?

The above portrayal of love seems overwhelming to most people. As with all goals that appear far beyond our reach, there is the tendency to become disheartened and not even try. But we must remember two things about this love: It is a fruit; and it is of the Spirit. If the analogy holds true, fruit is cultivated and grown, not produced in the sense of making or manufacturing it. It is the natural result of a healthy fruit-bearing vine, tree, or plant. Second, it is fruit that the Spirit produces.6 Here is where the analogy of fruit-bearing breaks down, or at least needs to be refined. It is the believer’s part to cultivate the work of the Spirit in his life more than it is to grow fruit.

When it comes to God’s sacrificial, self-giving love, who can comprehend, let alone practice it? It would be impossible were it not for the fact that God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Who but God can work such love in us? Only through the Spirit’s life and power can we possess and express a truly intimate, unconditional, vulnerable, and enduring love. It is, after all, God who is at work in us “both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13)….”