Oh February, the month of love is here. Right in the middle of the month is Valentine’s Day, a day when we are supposed to be swept away with romantic gestures or gifted with red roses and/or giant hearts of unidentified chocolates. (Hopefully your box contained the guide to where your favorite confection was located). Yes, love is in the air and some little cherub is supposedly flitting about with magical gold-tipped arrows aimed at our cold, loveless hearts.
Maybe I am being overly simplistic, but when we were planning blog post topics, love seemed to automatically land on February. My mind immediately thought of Valentine’s Day and how much I wish it wasn’t a holiday. Red satin boxes of candy, Valentine’s Day cards, diamonds, and red roses are everywhere you turn. My immediate response to all of this is: “I sure am glad my husband doesn’t think showing up with candy and roses will prove his undying love to me.”
It’s not that I don’t like candy or flowers, I do. I just don’t believe they can even begin to express one’s love. I agree that getting a gift is nice, but without the labor of love, the gift itself holds little significance.
Think about this, if you received a dozen roses and a box of chocolates from someone that had just treated you poorly, was abusive, rude, and mean to you, would your heart leap with joy at how much they loved you simply because they handed you some candy and a dozen roses? You, at the very least, would expect an apology to go along with the gift, wouldn’t you? Friends don’t be fooled by superficial things! Love, like all emotions, cannot be bought.
Love is all about relationship, service, and sacrifice. It’s about taking care of someone at their worse, sitting beside them when they’re scared or sad, fixing a bowl of chicken soup for them when they have a cold, or washing the dishes in the sink without being asked. Love is about sacrificing your wants for other’s needs. Love is overwhelming and all encompassing. It pushes you to do things you would never do on your own and sends you to places you dare not tread if not for love.
Let’s look into the pages of scripture and discover the greatest love story ever told. Spoiler alert, it involves a gift. The ultimate gift to all of us is the salvation given to us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. His willingness to lay down His human body to save humanity defines love more than anything we can imagine. But love didn’t start on the cross. No, love is mentioned anywhere between 300- 538 times in the Bible depending on which version you are reading (gotquestions.org).
The first mention of love in the Bible starts in Genesis when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son whom he loved.
He said, “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Genesis 22:2 NASB
I think of this scripture and often wonder: “Do I love God enough to do something like this? Could I be this obedient?”
Of course, we know that God provided the ram so that Abraham did not have to follow through with sacrificing Isaac. Yet, Abraham was willing and obedient without hesitation because he loved God. Why? What made Abraham willing? Because God is our creator! There is a piece of us that instinctively seeks a relationship with Him. There is a part of each of us that can only be filled with a loving relationship with the Lord.
The fall separated us from a direct relationship with God. When Adam and Eve took that bite, sin was introduced into the world and the result was a shattering of our relationship with Yahweh. But it was not completely destroyed. While there was a veil placed between us and the Lord, He loved us enough that He made a way for us to be restored back into community with Him.
God loves us enough! Enough to send His only son to pay the price. Jesus came to accept the punishment for all of us. The Lord had foreshadowed this moment back in Genesis with the story of Abraham. He showed us very clearly the depths He is willing to go to in order for us to know His love. God sent Jesus, His only son, with the purpose of saving me from my own sin. He sent Him for you also.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
Yet, Jesus didn’t wait to express His love for us just on the day He hung on the cross. No, He showed us how to love one another throughout His lifetime. Not by buying trinkets at the markets or turning water into wine for the party, but by walking through life as a trusted friend and teacher, by being available, and by washing the feet of His comrades. Jesus sat and spoke with those society ignored, He wept with the grieving, and He held a hand out to lift up the condemned.
So, to get back to why I tell George, my husband, not to show up with candy and flowers on Valentine’s Day. It’s because he shows me every single day that he loves me by the things he does. He brings me a hot cup of coffee while I’m getting dressed in the morning. He carries my briefcase to the car when I have a meeting. He runs a hot bubble bath when I’ve had a long day. He covers my day in prayer, and he speaks to God on my behalf. Nothing he can purchase can compare to the relationship he offers me, the comfort he gives me, and the sacrifices he makes for me. He does these things because he knows what love is. He loves because he has been loved first by the Lord. He, like everyone else, has been created in the image of God. Remember, God is love.
As a child of God, we can love because we have been loved first. If God loves us enough to have sent Jesus to pay for our sins, then we ought to love one another to honor that sacrifice.
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:9-11 ESV
So, yea, don’t bring me chocolates and flowers. Bring me Jesus!
Written by Rhonda Carlsen
All scriptures are taken from the ESV, NASB, and NIV.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New American Standard Bible (NASB) Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.