As I have noted before, it is a tremendous blessing to be able to see and recognize people with compassionate and “doing” hearts, who see the needs of those around them and are constantly blessing them by their actions, without thought for their self. This is unpretentious, unmitigated, immediate love and care for others only because it is needful for the moment. I was on a plane from New Orleans to St. Louis, and two ladies from Australia sat beside me. While there is not much you can do on a plane, the pretty lady beside me continuously busied herself doing needful things for her friend while her friend read: such as asking pertinent questions and picking up and disposing of her trash. I was surprised to gain an immediate admiration and love for this lady who I had never seen or met before, and wondered to God about it. He later gave me the word cherish, which was at first concerning, since we most often hear this word in relation to marriage vows. Beginning to scripturally consider the limited use of the word cherish brought enlightenment in so many ways;
Ephesians 5:28 – 30 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
The Lord Jesus cherishes the church … the members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. This is even beyond the pervasive love that He has for everyone, including the lost, but He further cherishes and nourishes His people who are called by His name! There is also no selfishness, carnality, or lust in this love and cherishing, but a constancy in meeting the needs of the body; that which is good, and honorable, and holy. So if I am made in His image, and begin to have His mind, I also will cherish His body! This is not an exclusion or exception in love of others, but a holding to that which is good, and a preferring of His body;
Romans 12:9, 10 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
If I am to prefer the child of God in honour, I should be available in obedience to accomplish what He desires for that body, nourishing it, without thought for self! We cannot allow our cherishing to become inordinate affection (Colossians 3:5) through disobedience or the temptation of the enemy, but should seek purity of heart and soul in our love one for another;
I Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.
From the last two scriptures we see that our love is to be without dissimulation, and unfeigned love: dissimulation is to hide under a false appearance, and feigned is fictitious, not genuine or real. So we are not to love with false reasons (for personal gain, or for lust, for instance): neither are we to pretend our love. So our call is to purity of heart, soul, and mind to love, cherish, and nourish His body! And this leads us to consider: What is His desire for that body? Looking above the verses in Ephesians it plainly tells us, and further confirms what we are understanding;
Ephesians 5:25 – 27 Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The purpose of Christ Jesus for the church is that it be a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So if we fully allow ourselves to be lead and used by Him, our actions will be fully edifying to no other purpose, and for his body! And as we love, cherish, and nourish that body we are leading and discipling other individuals to holiness, that they will also be equipped to do the same for others: the growth and expansion of the body as the Lord desires. Consider that Jesus spent three and a half years with the apostles, loving, nourishing and cherishing them, making them disciples. But His care for each of them was so unchanging and uniform that when He said that He would be betrayed, none of them could identify who it was. In fact, they were each so discipled at that point that they were not looking around in accusation and finger pointing, but were sorrowful, looking within: Lord, is it I? (Matthew 26:21, 22) Can you recognize that the process to sanctify and cleanse them was still working, and not yet complete? Consider the depth and fullness of the instructions they were given by Jesus in the last hours before Jesus was taken (John 13:7 – 17:26). May you so receive the depth of the love and cherishing of the Lord Jesus that you may be holy and without blemish.
Further consider that the apostle Paul dismisses all other motives and actions, and describes just that love and cherishing, to the Thessalonians;
I Thessalonians 2:4 – 8 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
Paul describes the encompassing love and affection that they have for the Thessalonians to the point of giving their souls, and compares it with the cherishing of a nurse for her children. There is no lust or ill intentions in any of their love, but it is a pure and undefiled love for them. In the English the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines cherish as: 1a to hold dear; feel or show affection for; 1b to keep or cultivate with care and affection; 2 to entertain or harbor in the mind deeply and resolutely. Even the English definition includes no reference to or for self or receiving, but includes only the feelings and actions of giving of self. After Paul describes the litany of physical punishments or perils that he had faced in I Corinthians 11:23 – 27, he notes his spiritual burden and his motive from the love of God, and for his suffering;
I Corinthians 11:28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Does this consideration of cherish give you a greater understanding of the love and care Paul had for the church? the cherishing of the body (that is the mind of Christ)? Consider that Paul’s many epistles were not written to the lost, but to the churches, the body of Christ! Each of the above passages of scripture that Paul wrote were to describe his preferring of the body of Christ, and his care, nurturing, and nourishing of that body. The above uses of the word cherish here have no connection to marriage, but both uses are related to the love of God for the body. God desires for us to also fully have His mind, the love of His body!
The only other use of the English word cherish in the King James Bible is in regard to Abishag in I Kings 1:2 – 4. The scriptures say that Abishag cherished and ministered to King David, although she did not receive him as in marriage. Oh, that we may receive grace to find this same cherishing and ministering, without expectation of receiving, for the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS! We will, of course, be blessed, for It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)! But know also that you will receive, for we cannot out give God: and what you receive will be far greater and better for you than anything you had previously desired: and God will make those things the desire of your heart! Ask and seek God for the grace to cherish others, and honour His body! You will receive two immutable truths of God: that in blessing Him, He will bless you; and in multiplying, He will multiply you!