The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, – Exodus 34:6
Héséd is the word for “steadfast love,” or “lovingkindness.” It highlights God’s faithfulness. He doesn’t go back on covenant promises, which is why it is also appropriately understood to mean “covenant faithfulness.”
Let’s highlight four manifestations of God’s faithfulness. First, we see it in the positive light of blessings (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). God blesses those who image His faithfulness in relationships with Himself and man. Above all, His blessings are comprehensive of man’s life.
Second, His faithfulness is negatively manifested in His curses. God curses those who are unfaithful in their relationships with God and man (Numbers 11:33; Deuteronomy 11:17; Matthew 3:7; Luke 21:22-23). Just as the blessings overtake God’s faithful people, so will curses overcome His disobedient people.
Third, the jealousy of God shows His covenant faithfulness. Often, the heat of God’s anger comes to us in the language of a husband whose wife has committed adultery. In the Covenant of Grace, man is united with God, but our sin testifies to the opposite. Therefore, is it any wonder why He is jealous?
Fourth, God’s lovingkindness manifests itself in redemption. After the fall, God’s fulfilled His promise made to Adam and Eve. By sending Jesus, the promised Seed, He demonstrated His lovingkindness and faithfulness. Moreover, Jesus’ faithfulness is on display in His dedication to complete the mission of redeeming the world. And finally, the Holy Spirit is faithful in His ongoing ministry to us.
A living love
First, since God blesses us for faithfulness to Him, we need to bless faithfulness in others towards us. Faithful friends, spouse, children, or other family members. Do we acknowledge their loyalty with words, gifts, and services?
Second, a part of loving someone is not letting them destroy themselves and others with their sin. We can neglect the curse-nature of God’s love. How? Forgiving when there is no restitution (Matthew 5:24). Failing to “not even to eat with” a Christian who lives contrary to their confession (1 Corinthians 5:11). We also deny it if we refuse to “admonish the idle” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Similarly, as God is faithful to correct sin, we must be too.
Third, when we go about doing those things listed above, we should be motivated with godly jealousy. The reason to confront sin in others is that we are passionate about the restoration of their relationship with God and neighbor. Unrepented sin damages both of them.
Fourth, a part of practicing lovingkindness, or loyalty, is to be objective-oriented. To do this, we must study Scripture, then assess our abilities and successes. As we consider these in prayer, God may reveal something unique we can do for the Kingdom. And by being goal-oriented, we can become better stewards of our resources and productive members in our communities.