by Dorette Saunders
The month of February is often seen as a time when diehard romantics celebrate “love” — on the 14th day—Valentine’s Day. This is when chocolates, teddy bears, red hearts, expensive meals, and wedding proposals accompany hugs and kisses and other signs of loving affection.
And, there is nothing wrong with such fancy display of love. Indeed, love is to be celebrated. Yet, in the midst of such joyous celebration, there are many who do not have such attention directed toward them and dread the day.
Perhaps this year we can view it differently. How? By examining what truly matters. Over and over the Bible gives us guidelines on how we are to love. The apostle Paul tells us:
“Be sincere in your love for others. Hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good. Love each other as brothers and sisters and honor others more than you do yourself. Never give up. Eagerly follow the Holy Spirit and serve the Lord” (Romans 12:9-11, CEV).
We cannot truly love unless we learn how to love from God. If we “eagerly follow the Holy Spirit,” there is no doubt that he will change the posture of our hearts, and allow us to truly love as God loves.
This love that God gives us encompasses the whole spectrum—from learning how to love strangers and family to offering sacrificial love to our spouses.
Yet, love makes us vulnerable. And true love requires that we hold nothing back as we demonstrate our willingness to put something or someone else above ourselves.
Here is what the Scriptures declare:
“…The Lord our God is the only true God! So love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, CEV).
Jesus reiterates it, saying:
“‘You must love him [God] with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’ The second most important commandment says: ‘Love others as much as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is more important than these” (Mark 12:30,31, CEV).
When we celebrate love, we cannot leave God out of the equation. Love starts with God because God himself is love (1 John 4:16).
This year Lent begins on February 22. It gives us an opportunity to pause and look at the heart of Jesus and his sacrificial love for us. His was a love that would not let us go. Jesus’ love was not for a day, but for eternity. It was a love that surpassed human understanding. None of us deserved it, yet our Lord freely gave us his love—all of it.
Let’s take time to examine our own hearts, it’s a matter of life and love.
PRAYER: Loving God, our attempts at love pale in comparison to your great love for us. Teach us to love not only those who delight our hearts, but also those who are often considered the “least of these.” In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.