Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, et cetera — Happy Valentines Day!
The attitude that people have towards this holiday is very dynamic. There are some who think that this holiday is romantic, splendid, and that it comes with some surprises from our significant others. Some hate it… mostly because they are single, but sometimes they have a point that this day is a little corny and sappy. Then, there’s that really fun minority that denounces this holiday because it was once a pagan, witchcraft, something or other where people would grill children over burning kittens… too far? Probably.
Nevertheless, since this holiday is being celebrated, this is a perfect time to make good use of it. Every day is given to us by God, and even Valentine’s Day can be used to glorify God. But what glory is there in the hopeless romanticism, sad loneliness, and legalistic yelling that accompanies this holiday? Well, I believe that as Christians, we should see this day as a great opportunity to discuss one of the most important words in the Bible: love. What better time to define the biblical view of love than a day that is believed to be completely dedicated to it?
We are constantly being told to love someone, and this culture seems to be obsessed with the word, but in the words of The Princess Bride‘s Ingio Montoya, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” See, the secular culture tends to define love in one of two ways: 1) how much you get from someone, and 2) how much in common you have with a person. For example: if you enjoy you get sex from someone, then the culture says you must love that person. Another example: if you know a person that is exactly like you, you have to love them.
Under the biblical worldview, both are wrong. Not only that, it is complete nonsense. Is it possible to get something from someone, and yet not have any love toward them? Yes. It is more likely a person is feeding one’s lusts or prideful ambition than love when searching for a person to get something from. Also, is it possible for someone to have the exact same mind as you, and yet for there to be quarrels and arguments? Yes. How many cases of divorces have there been where people say, “We have so much in common, but things just didn’t work out.” Why is that so?
Take a look at this holiday. What is this holiday usually about? Giving flowers and candy to someone you have a crush on, or even maybe the one you truly love. Why? Because you have been told this is a form of love: giving someone what they might like. In fact, some pastors even think it’s a “love language.” However, one of the things that defines love in the Bible is, “Love is patient… love does not envy…” in 1 Corinthians 13:4 (ESV). One of the greatest missionaries that has ever lived, Amy Carmichael, once said, “You can always give without having love.” I would add to her words, that it is possible to keep getting and getting, and yet not have any love from the person you are receiving gifts from.
Another thing, some people believe that perfect love is when you have a lot in common with a particular person. However, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV), “[Love] does not insist on its own way…” Justin Timberlake wrote a song called Mirrors, and a lot of girls from my high school were obsessed with it. I hated it! The song praised this idea that you should love someone exactly like you. That’s wrong! I am not talking about loving someone with the same doctrine, theology, and politics; I am talking about people that want to find a person with the same personality, same music style, same features, same fantasies, etc. That’s a form of pride! In your thinking that you are perfect, you are chasing after someone that is exactly like you in the hopes that it will keep the relationship afloat. In reality, it doesn’t. Wearing high heels doesn’t keep your feet from the mud.
I think you all are seeing where I am getting at: the definitions of love that this world has to offer, revolve around ourselves. “Does this person pleasure me?” “Does she have the figure I like?” “Does he make enough money?” All of these things have nothing to do with love. We know this to be true because the Bible’s greatest example of love is the cross, where our Savior bled for the sins of sinful men that didn’t love Him, but He gave up His life anyway as a sacrifice for many. Love is sacrificial. Love is an action. Love is an attribute of God. Love shouldn’t revolve around us at all; love should revolve around Christ.
You can’t have a successful relationship without Christ, and you can’t understand how to have an everlasting love towards someone without understanding God’s predetermined love for His elect. One of the greatest and most fear-worthy instructions given to men in the Bible is in Ephesians 5:25 (ESV) saying, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” We wonder why there are so many divorces? We wonder why people fall “out of love?” It is because they don’t know the love of Christ, and it is because men assume love is about what they are to get from their wives and not about how they are to serve them like Christ served and died for His Church.
How many people are ready to do anything for their spouse, fiancée, or girlfriend in this day and age? It seems that men are more ready to buy flowers, chocolates, and large teddy bears than to open their Bibles and see what love is! William Rees once penned a hymn called Here Is Love, and do you what he said it was? “Here is love, vast as the ocean, loving-kindness as the flood, when the Prince of Life, our Ransom, shed for us His precious blood.” Why do we not teach this? Why do people ignore this? How many problems can we solve by understanding Jesus to understand love?
For this Valentine’s Day, I want to remember that my love is meaningless towards anyone, unless it is founded on the love God has shown me. In 1 John 4:8 (ESV) it says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Love is not about us; love is about God. Until this world understands that, they will never love. We must ask ourselves: what do I base my love for my significant other on? What do I base my love for friends and family on? What do I base my love for all of mankind on? If that answer is anything other than Christ, then it is not love you have, for the only way you can have love is through Christ.
My Valentine will mean much more than, “You make me feel so good.” Instead, my Valentine will be founded on the One Eternal God, and when it is founded on Him… it can never falter. If He is my strength in my love, then I am confident that my love will indeed be kept strong, and that it will not falter under His guidance and leadership. As Christ loved the Church, I shall love her: the one God has determined I be with.
This is my Valentine:
“My love be with you… in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Corinthians 16:24 ESV)
Soli Deo Gloria.