“Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.”
John 15:12-13 MSG
Many don’t realize that Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated as a Christian Feast Day commemorating the martyrdom of St. Valentine.
Interestingly, it is disputed which St. Valentine, as there were no less than three who were martyred around the same period in the 3rd century—all on February 14th!
However, most scholars attribute the holiday to a priest who secretly performed Christian marriage ceremonies against the dictates of Roman emperor Claudius II.
He was imprisoned, and refusing to denounce his faith, he was sentenced to death—yet before he was executed, he healed the jailer’s daughter of blindness.
St. Valentine exemplified not so much eros—or romantic—love, but true agape—or Christian—love.
Today, with the commercialization of Valentine’s Day, the focus has turned to celebrating sentimental gestures of romantic love.
I want to challenge you, instead, this Valentine’s Day, to celebrate the kind of love Jesus came to demonstrate: the love that lays down its life—that gives selflessly—and that never fails.
The kind of love St. Valentine demonstrated and was remembered and celebrated for centuries after his death.
Let’s celebrate this international day of love by keeping this one thing in mind:
“If we love one another, God abides in us.”
1 John 4:12
In his love letter to the Colossians, the apostle Paul was unequivocally clear in his instruction that above all else we do in this world, we should love one another with the love of God.
In fact, when we do, we are made perfect…
“Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”
How do we know when we have strayed from God’s perfect love?
When we find ourselves afraid or anxious or uncertain or doubting or any of those responses the Bible warns is contrary to our faith.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…
The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18
The Bible also warns that whatever is not rooted in God’s perfect love renders us powerless; it depletes, weakens, and impoverishes us.
“So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”
1 Corinthians 13:3 MSG
So yes, let’s celebrate love today…God’s perfect love at work in us!
Let’s stir up that love (it’s a gift!) and share it with everyone we encounter! Let’s remember today that love is the primary thing…it’s what causes everything else to work, including our faith.
“…faith which worketh by love.”
Galatians 5:6 KJV
More than any other evidence of the Spirit of God working in our lives—beyond the incredible force of hope or the redeeming power of faith, or God’s amazing grace, sustaining joy, or transcendent peace—is God’s love at work in us.
“The greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
Again, “what is important,” wrote Paul to the Galatians, “is faith expressing itself in love” (Gal. 5:6 NLT).
As we celebrate the transformational power of love—the love that compelled God to give His only begotten son to redeem humanity (see John 3:16)—let’s think about those around us most in need of it.
I challenge you this Valentine’s Day to build your capacity to love.
Speaking of capacity building and the meaning of the word “Valentine”...the Latin name Valentinus is derived from the Latin valentia, which means “strength, power, and capacity” (think of the words valiant and valor)—also the Latin valere, meaning “to be strong; to be well, be worth, be able; to have power.”
So this Valentine’s Day, go forth with strength and power. Embrace your tremendous worth, capacity, and potential in Christ’s love to transform someone’s world.
I challenge you to go and truly be someone’s Valentine!
“Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Colossians 3:14 MSG