Ebenezer Scrooge is famous for responding to others’ greeting of “Merry Christmas,” with his trademark, “Bah! Humbug!” Many people feel this way about Valentine’s Day. I get it, with our cultural commercialization and high-pressure focus on an idealized romantic love.
But, far be it from me to throw cold water on this holiday. After all, my maiden name is Lovelady, and I was born on Valentine’s Day. Growing up, I always got a heart-shaped birthday cake. I can’t escape it.
In reality, the measure of Christian love is hard to live up to. There are so many scriptures I could use to support this, but just a few will prove to be enough.
We see this kind of love fully exemplified in Yeshua/Jesus – his life, death, and resurrection. When asked, “What is the greatest commandment,” Jesus answered:
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” –Mark 12: 29-31
He is quoting the Law of Moses here, as all of his listeners would have been very familiar with those verses. But he went further with this concept when he said:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” –John 15:12-13
Ok, short of death, what does love look like?
The Apostle Paul wrote a beautiful description of it in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. In part, it says,
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.
These words set a high standard for us. Even in my process of sanctification, as I pray to become more like Jesus, I still fall short.
Jesus has not left us without a helper. He has given us His own Spirit to live within us. We are aided by the Holy Spirit, who bears His fruit in our lives, and that begins with love. Where my ability to love fails, He steps in.
In his first epistle, John also says,
“We love because He first loved us.” –I John 4:19
Love is God’s initiative. It was so with Israel (Deuteronomy 7: 7-8), and it has also been graciously extended to us Gentiles. As we come to know Him better, we love Him more and conform to the image of His Son.
We become like that which we love.
This is not the focus of our commercial and cultural Valentine’s Day, but this is what it’s about for me.
As always, my prayer is, “To see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly – today and every day.”
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