Psalm 107:43 Whoever is wise, let him heed these things
and consider the great love of the Lord.
Once again where the NIV says “love,” the Japanese says, “grace.” The Japanese term is also used for blessings in general, so that puts a rather different slant on this verse. Americans throw around the word, love, very freely, saying things like, “I love hamburgers.” If you’re going by the Greek eros, a self-centered love for your own satisfaction, that’s not strange, but you would never say that in Japanese. Actually, Japanese use the word very seldom, not even in a romantic context, which is one reason Christianity seems foreign to them. The flip side of that is that they say things like “beloved dog,” or even “beloved car,” which certainly shows a different slant to the very idea. In the New Testament, the Greek demands “love” as the translation for agape or even phileo. (Eros isn’t used in the Bible at all.) However, I can understand why the Japanese translators generally used “grace” rather than “love” in the Old Testament. And all of that begs the question of what this verse says, which is that we need to know God before we can be wise. When John goes so far as to say that God is love, (1 John 4:8) knowing God is certainly a matter of knowing His love. Americans are handicapped by taking love too lightly, and Japanese are unfamiliar with love at all. There is probably no culture that easily grasps the character of God, so we need to turn to Him and ask Him to reveal Himself to us.
I’ve been experiencing the culture clash on this issue the past few days, as well as gaining an even deeper appreciation for what love is. When I took my wife to the hospital on Tuesday, after the paperwork was done and we had gone up to her floor, the nurse was about to wheel her into the ward (where I couldn’t go because of current COVID regulations) when she called a halt, and I went over, we both pulled down our masks, and we kissed. The nurse was actually shocked! Then on Wednesday, the doctor (who is Japanese but his wife is from Peru) had specified that we were to be given a moment before she was wheeled off to surgery, and the two nurses were more than excited over how we each said “I love you” to each other. That was the cultural part, but the forced separation has brought home once again that we are not two but one, just as Jesus said. (Matthew 19:6) It is no trivial thing that Paul so closely connects marriage to the relationship of Christ and the Church in Ephesians 5 – which is very interesting, since he wasn’t married! I do know that over 53 years of being married to my wife has taught me a great deal about God, on very many levels. I want to keep growing in my knowledge and love of the Lord, to be an ever-more-effective channel of His love to others, for His glory.
Father, thank You for Your love, and for allowing me to participate in it, both toward my wife and toward others. The expressions are certainly diverse! Help me also love myself accurately, so that I may love others accurately as well, (Matthew 22:39) drawing them to You for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!