Chocolates, candy hearts, and flowers. Studies show that these are the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts, although I don’t think research was required for us to know this! Whether or not we “celebrate” Valentine’s Day, we can not escape it! But from where does it originate and what exactly is being celebrated?
While there are many legends surrounding Saint Valentine, it is widely thought that he was a third century saint who, in addition to being associated with the idea of love, was martyred on February 14, 269, for his faith. One legend states that against Emperor Claudius’s orders, Saint Valentine secretly married couples in order to keep the husbands from having to go to war. Claudius terribly needed more soldiers so this did not bid well for Saint Valentine! Another legend states that Valentine, a priest who refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, was imprisoned for his stance. It is believed that while in prison, he prayed for the jailer’s daughter, and she was healed. Upon his execution, he left her a note signed, “Your Valentine.”
While there is much speculation upon the life of Saint Valentine and why he is connected with the notion of love, there is One whose connection to this noble idea requires no speculation and no guesses: Jesus Christ. In fact, He is love personified. If we ever want to know what true love is or what true love looks like, all we need to do is look to Him. Rest assured, while chocolates or flowers are a nice gesture of one person’s love for another, God’s love is so much more than what could ever fit in a neatly tied box or bouquet. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son. While we were yet sinners, Christ demonstrated His love by dying for us. Christ loved us and gave His life for us. There is no greater love than laying one’s life down for his friends (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Galatians 2:20, John 15:13). What a lavish love He has bestowed upon us!
Compare the fullness of God’s love to the fleeting desires of romance, the world’s definition of love:
Romance is seeking perfection. Love is forgiving faults.
Romance is eager, striving always to appear attractive to each other. Love is two people who find beauty in each other no matter how they look.
Romance is dancing in the moonlight, gazing into desired eyes across a candlelit table. Love is saying, “You’re tired, honey, I’ll get up this time,” and stumbling through the darkness to warm a bottle or comfort a frightened child.
Romance is flying. Love is a safe landing.
Romance is flattering attentions. Love is genuine thoughtfulness.
Romance is tingling exciting. Love is tenderness, constancy, being cherished.
Romance is suspense, anticipation, surprise. Love is dependability.
Romance is delicious. Love nourishes.
Romance is fleeting. Love is long.
Romance can’t last. Love can’t help but last. Love never fails.
By Marjorie Holmes
God’s love: we can’t earn it, we can’t change it, and we don’t deserve it. His love does not depend upon our performance, our feelings, or us being “lovable.” Yet He loves us fully and unconditionally. Why? God IS love. Love is His very nature. Read the famous “love” excerpt from 1 Corinthians 13 and replace the word “love” with the name “Jesus” for a glimpse into the kind of love Jesus has for you:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Having received His love, let us walk in it: first, by loving God as a response to the love He has bestowed upon us, and second, by loving one another because of the way in which He loves us. Loving God and loving others - these are the greatest commandments! Now put your name in the place of the word “love” in the above verses. Oh, let us ask Him to help us love others as He loves us!
Be blessed and encouraged as you read the following breakdown of John 3:16. God is truly the greatest Lover and He has already given us the greatest Gift! That is something worth celebrating, not only on February 14th, but all year round!
the greatest Lover
the greatest degree
the greatest number
THAT HE GAVE
the greatest act
HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON
the greatest Gift
the greatest invitation
the greatest simplicity
the greatest Person
SHOULD NOT PERISH
the greatest deliverance
the greatest difference
the greatest certainty
the greatest possession
In His love,