Sermon Summary, 6/3/18, “Reviving the Secret Word” (Micah 6:8; Col 3:12-15; Romans 9:12:9-21)
There was a time that Rosemary was not very happy with me. I promised I’d change. She replied, “You won’t change; people don’t change.” She’d tell you I have changed. What was the secret? Secret is the operative word. God changes us, more correctly the most definitive attribute of God, changes us, and it’s the “Secret Word.”
It is the most definitive attribute of God and the translators have kept it a secret from you. It shows up 246 times in the Old Testament and you’ve never heard of it. It’s right there in our Scripture, “and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) It’s there.
It shows up in your favorite Psalm: :”Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Ps 23:6) It’s there.
It shows up in the words of description of many of our heroes: Job, Ruth, Esther, David and Jonathan, the nation Israel. It’s there.
So here’s the secret word. It is the Hebrew word, “Chesed.” (the C is silent.) “Chesed.” So what? It’s Greek to me. No, it’s Hebrew.
No, it’s not Greek. Part of the problem was that for Greek and for English translators, the Hebrew word, “Chesed” took a dozen words to describe. It was translated as devotion or loyalty, unchanging or steadfast love, mercy or merciful, love, kindness, goodness, righteousness, favor, faithfulness. One translator, the most literal, the NASB, even made up a word, “lovingkindness.” “Chesed” is the secret word and it is awesome! The most definitive attribute of God.
Paul was faced with the same problem and had to use multiple attributes to describe the Christian life: “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness..patience...forgiveness...Above all, clothe yourselves in love which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (from Col 3:12-15)
In Romans 12:9-21, the instruction set for Christian living, he again lists a dozen attributes. In Galatians 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit (note it’s singular) he lists nine to make up a single fruit. All along the Secret Word was “Chesed.” If only it had been Greek instead of Hebrew.
But here’s the deal. If you examine all of what Paul calls us to do, they can all be achieved with “Kindness.” How was I changed? I would suggest that Rosemary allowed God’s lovingkindness to flow through her to be her kindness to me. Kindness changed me. And here’s the deal, when God forms us to allow His kindness to flow from us, it is not just for one, it is for all. And kindness changes us, our families, our communities, and yes, transforms the world. The Secret Word is “Kindness.” Amen.