Love. Romance. Chocolate. Flowers.
These words describe the days surronding Valentine's Day. The world spends an incredible amount of time, energy, emotions and money on this holiday. In 2003 CNN Money reported that the average man spent $138 on a gift while women spent around $36. This year Americans are expected to spend an amazing $13.2 BILLION dollars for Valentine's Day! An estimated 1 billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (see this article).
What if I used these words, instead, to describe Valentine's Day:
Rome. Prison. Christ. Death.
Is this surprising? You may already know that there was a real man named Valentine. You may know he feel in love with a girl and wrote her a note signed, "From your Valentine." You may even know that he died for Christ. There are many legands and much confusion surrounding the truth of St. Valentine's life.
I would love to know the truth about this man, but that is not where my thoughts usually dwell on Valentine's Day. This day is a wonderful reminder to ponder LOVE. What is Biblical love? How does God love? How did Christ love? How do I display love? Who should I love? Why should I love?
1- God IS Love.
*If you are like me, this is an amazing concept to grasp. I am human, therefore I can only "do" love. I am not Love as an end. Only God can BE Love in His Divine, All-Powerful nature.
2- Love is...
(taken from 1 Corinthians 13)
* Sacrificial (Ephesians 5:2)
* Displayed in Christ (1 John 3:16)
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 7-21
If you have not read 1 John lately, I encourage you to read ALL of it. Do you see how many times he uses the word "love?" Think of who John was. Think of the relationship he had with Jesus. In the gospel account he authored, he calls himself "the disciple Jesus loved." He too loved Jesus. He spent three years at Jesus' side, learning what love truly was and how to live it out. He was with Love.
Oh, how short I fall from loving like Christ loved. I get impatient. I am unkind. I do and say so many unloving things. I want to be more like Christ. I want to love without reservation. I want to love like Christ loved. God, help me! I cannot love without knowing Love Himself.