"The verbs for a particular African language consistently end in one of three vowels...i, a, and u." But the word for "love" was only found with i and a. Why no u?"
The missionary asked the most influential community leaders. "Could you dvi your wife?"
Yes, that would mean that the wife had been loved, but the love was gone.
Could you dva your wife?
Yes. That kind of love depends on the wife's actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.
Could you dvu your wife?
Of course not!, They all laughed. If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water and never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would have to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say, dvu. It just doesn't exist.
The missionary sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, "Could God dvu people"?
There was complete silence for three of four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of the elderly men of the community.
Finally, they responded, "Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, while all that time we rejected His great love. He would be compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people."
Changing one vowel changed the meaning from, "I love you based on what you do and who you are" to "I love you based on who I am. I love you because of me and not because of you."
Encoded in this African language, but unused for centuries, lay a perfect picture of Christ's unconditional love. Ethnos360
In the English language there is only one word for love. We use it to express all kinds of things we love, I love my husband, I love potato chips, I love my cat, I love whatever. We don't change any of the letters in the word to express our love for different things. In almost every other language they have several word variation for love.
One of the Hebrew words for "love" is hesed, (pronounced kheh=ed ), which is actually a difficult word to translate into English. That is because there is a range of meaning for hesed, which means a completely undeserved kindness and generosity. Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love (hesed) for will not be shaken. Hesed is not just a feeling, but an action. It "intervenes on behalf of loved ones and comes to their rescue".
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.