Posted on Nov 23, 2021 by Janet Loos
This week in middle school Sunday school, we studied the story of Ruth. We were challenged by the curriculum when the authors had us dive deeper into the word hesed.
Many biblical words such as mercy, compassion, love, grace, and faithfulness relate to the Hebrew word hesed (חֶסֶד), but none of these completely summarize the concept. Hesed is not merely an emotion or feeling, but involves action on behalf of someone who is in need. Hesed describes a sense of love and loyalty that inspires merciful and compassionate behavior toward another person. Hesed surpasses ordinary kindness and friendship. It is the inclination of the heart to show “amazing grace” to the one who is loved. Hesed runs deeper than social expectations, responsibilities, fluctuating emotions, or what is deserved or earned by the recipient. Hesed finds its home in committed, familial love, and it comes to life in actions.
We scoured the book of Ruth looking for examples of this complicated word. After we looked at the biblical examples, the curriculum had us examine our own lives, which was really difficult — not only for middle schoolers who are discovering their faith, but also for this 41-year-old lifelong Christian. We were asked to reflect on three questions:
Who has offered you hesed? How did it change you?
Who have you offered hesed? How did it change you?
How might you practice hesed this coming week?
As we enter this special, often hectic time of year, I invite you to reflect on the word hesed. I encourage you to wrestle with the same questions we did this Sunday. I ask you to try practicing hesed, and see the impact it makes.
Blessings to you all.
Salem Office Administrator