Growing up, I always loved the song that went “Cherish is the word I use to describe, all the feeling that I have hiding here inside.” Google tells me that this song is aptly titled “Cherish”, but I have a hard time thinking of it without the rest of the words in the opening line of the chorus.
The reason that I liked the song so much is that “cherish” seemed to more adequately describe that which we sought in a healthy relationship. The more traditional word, love, had been strewn around too much to carry any significant meeting. The word love had supplanted “lust”, “infatuation” and “obsessiveness” , and “really, really like” one too many times for me. Cherish seemed more appropriate. In my mind it conjured up images of deference, of respect, and of value. We use the word cherish to describe that which we honor and will not let go of. More so than “love” which had come to mean anything from a passing fancy to a familial connection, it described romance.
Recently though, I’ve found another application for the word. “Coincidentally” the last two week’s we’ve been learning what it means to love one another in church. I write coincidentally because the dual lessons came about as a result of a guest speaker, not a planned program. However, God must have thought our church needed a refresher, because the two lessons were almost identical in their motif: as part of God’s family we are called love one another – selflessly, humbly and with purpose. And while I agree that is true, I think cherish may also more accurately describe how we are to be to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Because modern-day usage has destroyed the meaning of the word love, it can conjure up images of tolerance for family members rather than active pursuit of their good. And while tolerance is admirable, I think God had in mind the latter rather than the former. We are to cherish those who are part of His family. To honor, esteem them, and work for their edification. We are to value them if for no other reason that our Father has fit to call them His kids. Cherishing them is how we demonstrate our commitment to Him.
Love is a good word. I use it on a regular basis. But when it comes to my co-laborers in Christ, I think my aim will be to cherish.