What do you think of when you hear the word 'cherish'?
One thing I've appreciated in my studies at Dallas Theological Seminary are the various word studies we do on Hebrew and Greek words throughout the Bible. As we were studying through the book of Ephesians, we came across a specific word in Ephesians 5 where it discusses how a man and a woman in marriage are to interact with one another. It talks about how the husband is to love his wife just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). Then it goes on to say, "as his own body". (Ephesians 5:28) It then says, "he who loves his wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church." (Ephesians 5:29)
So let's talk about this word 'cherish', which is the Greek word θάλπω (thalpó). It's a beautiful word and it doesn't just paint the picture of cherishing, but of keeping warm, of comforting, of holding close, of providing for their every need. In fact, this word is also used to describe a mother nursing her child, holding the child close, and nourishing the child.
That is how Christ loves the church and that means this is how Christ loves you. I know you have this cognitive knowledge that God loves you but it goes so far beyond that. He doesn't just love you, He holds you close, He watches you carefully, He gives you everything you need, He keeps you warm, and He comforts you. That's the God that you and I love and serve. He doesn't just love you in an 'I have to love you' kind of way, He cherishes you!