Today is a wonderful celebration of love. I have to admit that Valentine’s Day played a crucial role in the love of my life. In our first year of college, I was pretty certain very early on that my now-wife was the girl for me. She, on the other hand, took a bit of convincing. So, I would not squander the opportunity to send her flowers on Valentine’s Day. Five days later, we began dating and have been together ever since.
I’m sure many of you have similar stories. Valentine’s Day has long been a holiday to shower your loved ones with gifts of chocolates, candies, and flowers. As great as that is, though, love is so much more. Love is not the act of gift giving, and it is not temporary. The love Jesus wants us to share with each other is rooted in Him, eternal, and perfect.
Perhaps the best definition we have of love comes from Paul in the Bible. It has become a cliché at weddings (as the 2005 film Wedding Crashers points out when the main characters accurately predict the readings). But, if you take the time to actually read and consider the whole of what Paul wrote, I think you’ll find that love goes well beyond the romanticized version that is often the prize of many popular films (such as the aforementioned). As with anything worth having, true, deep love takes considerable dedication and effort.
“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13)
Powerful words. Read from the perspective of being loved, they are transcendent. Read from the perspective of loving others, well, I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have some work to do. Here’s to hoping we all can grow to love more perfectly, and may that begin with all of you having a very happy Valentine’s Day!