The most cost effective way to say I love you on Valentine's Day
For many Americans, the 14th of February is a day that conjures up images of romance: candlelit dinners, overpriced roses, boxes of chocolates filled with the unknown, poems that set hearts aflutter, and pastel-colored "Be Mine" hearts that taste like chalk. But after the treats have been eaten and the petals wilt, what is really at the heart of Valentine's Day?
St. Valentine, Friend...
The truth about the origins of Valentine's Day is somewhat of a mystery.
Some say it commemorates the day that the priest Valentinus, later known to us as St. Valentine, was martyred. In the third century, Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage, believing that men would be more willing to join his army if they didn't have loved ones and family to leave behind. Valentinus, believing this law to be unjust, continued to marry young couples in secret and was caught and sentenced to death.
Legend has it that while imprisoned, Valentinus fell in love with the jailer's daughter. As the story goes, before he was put to death, Valentinus wrote her a love letter, signing it, 'From your Valentine.'
Another viewpoint says that Valentine's Day celebrates the pagan festival of eroticism known as Lupercalia, honoring Juno Februata, the Roman goddess of 'feverish' love. Lupercalia was said to have been a day marked by lust and sexual eroticism. From this standpoint, it's no wonder why many Christians and churches across America reject Valentine's Day.
What is Love?
While there may never be agreement on the history behind Valentine's Day, one thing we can all agree upon is that the day is based upon the theme of love. That begs the question-do we really know what love is?
Nowadays, the word 'love' is so overused and abused that it's true meaning is often lost. The word is found in common sayings like, "I love the Lakers" or, "I love ice cream." When someone says "I love you," are we to assume that their feelings for us are the exact same feelings that they have for Ben & Jerry? One would hope not.
If we look in the dictionary, love is defined as "deep affection and warm feelings for another." But as Christians, the dictionary is not the book we should turn to in order to seek out love's true meaning.
The Greatest Love of All
Jesus Christ demonstrated the ultimate love by dying on the cross so we might live
For the true definition of love, let us look to the Bible:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God he who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
We need only look to the foundation of our faith for the greatest illustration of love. John 3:16 is a verse that most believers learn early on. For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son ...but how often do we fail to understand the significance of this act? God loves us so much that he allowed His only son to die for us. Now, that's love! What have you given to God lately to show your love for Him?
Five Ways to Show Your Love for God:
- Read God's Word everyday - Whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in Him. 1 John 2:5
- Memorize Scripture - Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
- Pray, and pray often - Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Sing out your praises to God - Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God. Psalm 147:1
- Put all your trust in God - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
Love by Example
There are many ways and opportunities to show Christ's love to others
In addition to loving God, Jesus also calls us to love each other in John 15:12. For many of us, this can be a challenge because loving others can often mean giving up our time, our energy, our money or our resources. How often are we reluctant to give up some of these things? How often does it seem like loving others is an inconvenience for us?
If we look to Jesus, we should always strive to follow His example of loving others, as in 1 John 3:16. If we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, we should begin to produce the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Yet we must not grow complacent and assume that loving others will always come easy, we should be faithful and diligent in our pursuit to love others at all times.
Five Ways to Show Your Love for Others
- Share God's Word - Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. Ephesians 6:19
- Be patient with others - ...Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
- Be forgiving of others - Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
- Be kind and humble - Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4
- Look out for others' interests - Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
So this Valentine's Day, while others are celebrating their own definitions of love with flowers, candy and gifts, let us celebrate it the way we would every other day of the year, by honoring the Bible's two greatest commandments-loving God and loving others. We can find comfort in knowing that we can always count on the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which is-let's face it, the greatest love of all!