Give Jesus My Hurt, He'll Give Me His Love

The Great Gift Exchange  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:39
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This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.
How many of you have heard the phrase “Hurt people hurt people”? While that phrase has been attributed to everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Pastor Rick Warren, the earliest recorded use of the phrase was in a local Texas newspaper in 1959 which was reporting on a speech made at a PTA meeting.
Regardless of its source, it does seem to me that there is a lot of truth in that statement. I know that has certainly been true in my own life at times. For me, that is even more likely to happen when someone hurts someone I love like my wife. Several years ago, Mary was treated very unfairly by someone who claimed to be a Christian. And for some time after that I spent a lot of time dreaming up ways to get back at that person and the organization he worked for. But looking back now I understand that the only person I was really hurting by doing that was me.
I think this is one of the underlying reasons that it has become increasingly difficult in our culture to have a civil conversation with those with whom we disagree. Rather than returning a blessing for a curse as we’re instructed to do in the Bible, even those of us who are mature disciples of Jesus have a tendency to try and hurt others when we have been hurt. So what’s the solution?
We’re going to explore that this morning in the second message from our current sermon series - The Great Gift Exchange. In this series we’re looking at four exchanges that Jesus offers to us that are made possible because Jesus is Emmanuel - God with us. Last week we began by discovering in Psalm 43 that Jesus wants to give us hope in exchange for our despair and that He does that when we seek Him rather than seek a solution.
This morning, we’ll look at another Psalm - Psalm 103 - which we read earlier. I’m going to be referring to portions of this passage and also asking for you help this morning in identifying some of the key ideas, so go ahead and turn to Psalm 103 in your Bibles and have that passage handy.
Let’s begin with a question. If I were to ask you, “What is the “love chapter” of the New Testament, what would you say? [Wait for answers]. That’s right - 1 Corinthians 13. Well, Psalm 103 is it’s Old Testament counterpart. It’s a Psalm that’s all about love.
The key phrase in this Psalm, as well as many other Psalms, is “steadfast love”. In Hebrew, it is just one word - hesed. That Hebrew word is used 245 times in the Old Testament, with over half of those uses found in the Psalms. It occurs 4 times in this Psalm - in verses 4, 8, 11, and 17 and it is central to this Psalm. So I think it’s worth a bit of our time to understand exactly what it means.

Four elements of “hesed

There are four elements which characterize hesed. And each of them is important in helping us to develop the main idea in this Psalm.
Hesed always exists within some kind of relationship - family, tribe, covenant, promise. There is always some kind of personal connection involved.
One commentator called hesed the “Biblical equivalent of an IOU”. There is a sense of mutual obligation. When God chooses to rescue us, we have an obligation to Him. As we’re going to see this morning, this Psalm reveals some of those obligations.
This is the idea that hesed is to be “paid forward”. It is to benefit those who were not part of the original bond. So that means that God’s love toward us should impact the way we treat others.
It is not merely a matter of feelings or beliefs. Hesed is demonstrated by action.
The Psalm breaks down into three distinct sections that describe how the steadfast love of God operates in three ever-widening spheres:
Personal (vv. 1-5) – How God has demonstrated His steadfast love to David personally National (vv. 6-14) – How God has demonstrated His steadfast love to the people of Israel Universal (vv. 15-22) –How God has demonstrated His steadfast love for all of His creation - from mankind to the heavenly beings to the creation itself
All three sections provide us with some insight into the main idea we’re going to develop this morning:

Jesus gives me love in exchange for my hurt when I choose to fear Him rather than those who hurt me

I think the underlying reason that hurt people hurt people is fear of the one who hurt them. That was certainly true in my case when I feared that the person who had mistreated my wife could impact her career and ultimately that would impact me. But we’re going to see this morning that the antidote to my hurt is to fear Jesus instead. That is how we make the great gift exchange of my hurt for His love.
This Psalm is a bit different than the one we looked at last week. David doesn’t really make any complaints here or ask God for anything. He doesn’t mention any enemies that are pursuing him or any challenges he is facing. We don’t know exactly when David wrote this poem, but it seems that he was at a pretty good point in his life.
But he certainly does look back to those times in his life when he was hurting and he recognizes that it was God’s steadfast love that carried him through those times. David begins the Psalm by speaking to his soul, much like we saw in Psalm 43 last week.He commands his soul to bless God and he reminds himself not to forget all the benefits of God’s love. God has forgiven his sin, healed his disease, redeemed his life, and satisfied him with good.
Then he proceeds to write about how God demonstrated His love for Israel. In this section, David answers the question of how God can provide compassion and mercy to sinners and still be just. Writing roughly 1,000 years before Jesus comes on the scene, David can’t possibly understand that is only possible through Jesus, but we certainly do see some things in this Psalm that point ahead to Jesus.
I’ll give you a few moments to scan through this Psalm and see if you can tell me who is the one carrying out all the actions here. [Wait for answers] It is God, not David, not the people of Israel, not all of mankind or the entire creation that is acting here. It is 100% God at work.
It is God who works justice and righteousness for the oppressed.
It is God who revealed Himself and His ways.
It is God who is merciful and gracious.
It is God who removes our sins and chooses not to deal with us according to those sins.
It is God that shows compassion.
It is God that rules over all.
Remember earlier we said that hesed is characterized by actions and not just words or emotions or thoughts? We certainly see that here, don’t we?
We also said that hesed is reciprocal - that it obligates the recipient to respond in some way. And we certainly see that in this passage. Can you help me to identify the four times in this passage where David describes the obligation of those who are the recipient of God’s hesed? I’ll give you a clue. They all begin with a phrase like “to those...” or “toward those...”, or “on those...”
[Wait for answers]
That’s right. The obligation to fear God is included three times - in verses 11, 13, and 17. So right away I’m thinking that’s pretty important. And the fourth obligation is in verse 18 - “to keep God’s covenants and remember to do his commandments”. While that might seem unrelated to fearing God, I think it is actually an integral part of what it means to fear God.
Remember that in Hebrew poetry, which include the Psalms, instead of rhyming words like we often in our culture, the Hebrews rhymed thoughts. So we often see them describing the same idea or concept by using different words to describe the same concept. I think that is exactly what David is doing here. Hopefully I’ll be able to demonstrate that even more clearly here in a moment.
Since the fear of the Lord is really at the heart of how we exchange our hurt for Jesus’ love, we probably ought to take some time to see if we can better understand what that means.


There is really no simple answer to that question. Probably most often it is described as “reverence” for God, but in my opinion that definition doesn’t really go quite far enough.
In the Old Testament, the word translated “fear” here in this Psalm has several different meanings including these that are relevant to the fear of God:
The terror one feels in a frightening situation
Respect, such as the respect of a servant for his master
Reverence or awe that a person feels when in the presence of greatness
The fear of the Lord is a combination of all three
Probably the best definition of the fear of the Lord that I’ve seen that incorporates these three aspects comes from the “Got Questions” website:
Fear of the Lord can be defined as “the continual awareness that our loving heavenly Father is watching and evaluating everything we think, say, and do”.
For me, I tend to think of the fear of the Lord in terms of the way I feared my own father. I certainly had respect for him and so I wanted to live my life in a way that was pleasing to him. I also had a degree of reverence and awe for my dad. Even though he was not famous by worldly standards, he was someone who cared deeply for others and who was held in high esteem by those who knew him. So I looked up to him and I have always strived to be that kind of man. But there was also an element of terror whenever I did something wrong, knowing that when my dad got home and pulled off his belt, I was going to receive the punishment I deserved.
So yes, the fear of the Lord does mean respect and it does mean reverence and awe. But it also includes the idea that God is watching over everything I do and I ought to fear His discipline when I sin. That fear is obviously tempered by the knowledge that Jesus has made it possible for my sin to be forgiven, but that doesn’t always mean that God will take away the consequences of my sin - either for me or for others who are impacted by my sin.
So what does that look like in practical terms?


Hate sin
Pastor Adrian Rogers was fond of using this saying that is one of my favorites:
Unconverted sinners leap into sin and love it;
Converted sinners lapse into sin and loathe it.
Because we are human beings who have a sin nature, all of us are going to sin. But what separates those who fear the Lord from those who don’t is how they view that sin.
If I truly fear God, then I understand the punishment I deserve for my sin and I also understand what it cost Jesus to pay the penalty for my sin. I also understand that even though my sin has been paid for by Jesus on the cross, my sin still impacts my relationship with God and it has consequences for me and for others. And so I will hate my sin and I will do everything in my power to avoid it.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of people who call themselves Christians that lack this mindset, Instead of hating sin, their approach is to see how much sin they can get away with and still be OK with God. I don’t think it’s possible to think like that if you really fear God.
Love His Word
Pastor John MacArthur wrote this about fearing the Lord:
To fear God is to know Him as He is and respond accordingly.
We see this idea in verse 7 where David described how God revealed Himself to the people of Israel through Moses. That was the first step in them coming to fear the Lord.
Today, God primarily reveals Himself through His Word - the Bible. So if we really want to get to know God as He really is, then we will delight in His Word. We won’t just read it out of a sense of duty, although that’s not necessarily a bad place to start. We won’t just read it if we have some extra time. We will so look forward to the privilege of knowing God through His Word that we will make it a top priority in our lives.
Take joy in obeying His Word
We’ve already seen that verse 18 indicates that God’s righteousness comes to those who keep His covenant and remember to do his commandments. I’m going to come back to the idea of keeping His covenant in a moment because for us that means something a bit different than it did to the people of Israel because of the “new covenant” established by Jesus.
However, as I mentioned earlier, the parallelism in Hebrew poetry means that doing God’s commandments is an integral part of fearing the Lord. It’s not just enough to read God’s Word, or to memorize it, or even to study it. I have to actually put it into practice.
And I won’t do that reluctantly or begrudgingly. I will do that with great joy, knowing that God has given me those commandments for my good.
I’ve mentioned this before, but the way I like to make these last two ideas really practical - loving God’s Word and taking joy in obeying it - is to ask two questions every time I read the Bible:
What does this reveal about God?
Is there something I need to do in my life as a result of reading this passage?
Be at peace in my trials
The last part of this Psalm reveals the sovereignty of God over all His creation, both here on earth and in the heavenly realms. Even the angels and other heavenly beings do His will and He has dominion over all His creation.
That means that if I fear God, then when difficult circumstances come into my life, I will still be at peace, because I understand that God has completely sovereignty and control, not just over my life, but over all creation.
I love what Pastor John Piper said about this:
Fear of God will drive us to hope in God’s steadfast love, and not ourselves.
This really goes to the main idea we’re developing this morning. If I truly fear God, then I will let my hurts drive me toward Him and His steadfast love rather than trying to deal with those hurts on my own.
Love others
Earlier we talked about the idea that God’s steadfast love is “transitive” - it is to be paid forward. We just got done with a sermon series titled “Selfless”, where this was the underlying theme for the entire series.
Those who truly fear the Lord will do their very best to love others in the same way that God loves us. That means that we will not only love those who we like or who are nice to us, but we will even love our enemies. We do that understanding that we were all enemies of Jesus at one time and that even while we remained His enemies, He willingly gave His life for us. So we need to be willing to love others like that.
We’ve seen this morning that...

Jesus gives me love in exchange for my hurt when I choose to fear Him rather than those who hurt me

In verses 17-18 we see that God’s righteousness comes to those who keep His covenant. So as we close, I want us to think about what keeping God’s covenant means for us today. Jesus answered that question as He observed the Passover meal with His disciples on the evening before His crucifixion:
Luke 22:20 ESV
20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
A covenant is a relationship in which both parties make an oath to perform certain acts. In this new covenant, God has provided the blood of His Son, Jesus, to cover our sins and the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk in a new way of life. We enter into that covenant by putting our faith in Jesus Christ alone.
That means that today, on this side of the cross, the hesed, the steadfast love of God, comes only to those who have put their faith in Jesus. So if you want Jesus to exchange your hurt for His love, the first step is to put your faith in Jesus. If you’ve never done that, I want to urge you to make that decision today. If you’re not sure exactly what that entails, we’d love to talk to you more about that and how you can enter into that covenant and receive God’s steadfast love.
For those of you who have already take that first step, and that includes most of you joining us today, what I want to encourage you to do this morning is to make an honest evaluation of whether you really fear God. I want you to consider the five indicators that we just discussed and see how well your life lines up with them.
My guess is that a lot of you are doing pretty well in each of those areas. If that’s the case, then just keep on doing what you are doing. Give your hurts to Jesus and let Him give you His love in return.
But if you look at those indicators and you see some areas where there is some room for improvement, then confess that to God and ask Him to help you develop your walk with Him in those areas. I know that is the kind of prayer God delights in answering.
We live in a world where we are going to be hurt, sometimes very deeply and sometimes even by other Christians or by those we love. But the good news is that we don’t have to let those hurts remain in our lives. If we’ll give them to Jesus by fearing Him rather than fearing those who hurt us, He will give us His steadfast love in return.
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