Hidden in the midst of our long Iowa winters is the season of love: Valentine’s Day. It’s a time for chocolate and card companies to reap huge rewards as we focus on the significant others in our lives. Symbols like hearts and tiny cupids emphasize the importance of romantic love in our culture. Beginning with the Valentine’s card you gave to your first crush, there is a constant push from society telling you that true happiness is only fulfilled when you find the perfect person for you.
Curiously, Valentine’s Day, created to celebrate love, has been twisted into something quite contrary to how God’s Word teaches us to love. This contradiction is perplexing, given that the Bible makes love the core of its message. The Bible tells us that “God is love,” and the two most important commands we are given are to love God and love others. Additionally, the Bible holds love up as the greatest of all virtues. And yet, the way the Bible teaches us to love looks nothing like the romanticized Hallmark love stories.
In our culture, love seems to be focused on our emotions and how others make us feel. It is normal to hear somebody say they “fell in love,” and almost as common to hear someone say they “fell out of love.” However, in the Bible, love is shown through concrete actions and what you are willing to do for others. Jesus, on the night before his death, taught his disciples, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13).
Consider another illustration from the Bible of what it looks like to truly love another. When you take the time to slowly read this famous passage line by line, you realize it is a lot more than just a sweet poem to be read at weddings. It is the remedy for many strained relationships, if only people would follow these instructions:
“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. Love never fails.”1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Imagine the transformation in our society if, instead of celebrating a sentimental and fragile love on Valentine’s Day, we celebrated the love described by God in the Bible. How might our teens approach dating differently? Could our marriages become stronger if, rather than focusing on one romantic evening together, we focused on a lifetime of self-sacrificial love? I, for one, believe Godly love has the power to change the world. It already has.