It’s amazing how the very mention of possible shortages creates panic buying. Actually, news reports that use the word ‘panic’ only make us panic all the more. Pictures of empty supermarket shelves or queues at the petrol pumps cause us to stock pile toilet rolls or fill up the tank, when normally we’d just buy what’s really needed.
The present problem seems to be caused by a mixture of Brexit and COVID, and is a delivery problem, a lack of hauliers rather than an actual shortage of fuel. The government keeps telling us there’s no shortage at the source.
I heard a great quote this week, which roughly said, ‘Loving kindness is in short supply, so come on… panic buy!’ It made me smile, because just like the present fuel crisis, there’s no shortage at the source. When it comes to our need of the oil of Christian grace, we can go straight to the supplier. Our Father in heaven gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11:13). Perhaps ‘panic buy’ is not the best phrase, but as we look out on society in these days there’s an urgent need for us to pour God’s loving kindness into all our interactions. We dare not run on empty.
No Shortage at the Source
Loving kindness is used in our English bibles to translate the Hebrew word ‘hesed’. It comes close, but it misses the depth of meaning. Hesed is a difficult word to translate into English, for there’s a commitment in God’s kindness, flowing out of his covenant love and faithfulness.
David often refers to God’s love (hesed) as generous and abundant. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love (hesed) to all who call to you’ (Psalm 86:5). He can’t stop singing about it. ‘Because your love (hesed) is better than life, my lips will glorify you’ (Psalm 63:3).
Jeremiah links hesed with God’s love and mercy. ‘It’s because of the Lord’s great love (hesed) we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail’ (Lamentations 3:22).
Isaiah maintains God’s hesed is firm and strong and fills us with peace. ‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love (hesed) for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed’ (Isaiah 54:10).
Fill up Your Tank
Kindness often seems in short supply, and yet God is full of it; hesed is an aspect of his character. We can’t know this kind of love unless we know God himself. Jesus has made him known to us and his Holy Spirit fills us with the fuel we need to live God honouring lives. The New Testament commands us to fill up on Christ, and inspired by the Holy Spirit to put on his character of ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Galatians 5:22-23).
Fuel prices may be going up, but Jesus reminds us we have freely received his love, so we can freely give loving kindness away (Matthew 10:8).