As February comes upon us, we are reminded that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. It’s a time when we’re supposed to be focus on love. For stores, it’s the time when we focus on buying something for that special someone we love. I remember as a kid getting the packs of Valentine’s Day cards and picking which ones were going to go to which friends at school. It was always fun. Some people treasure Valentine’s Day and for others it is a painful reminder of love lost or love ones lost.
As we approach this holiday, I encourage you to think on what it means to love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 teaches us about love. This isn’t something that we do once or twice a year, but should be the mark of our daily lives. On the night when Jesus was betrayed, he shared a meal with his friends. He took this final time before the coming trial to share some important lessons with them. As he tells them of what is about to happen, he gives them this command for when he is gone from them. He says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Jesus’ love for his friends and followers was profound. It was different than any they’d experienced and they’d find out in just a few hours’ time just how deep that love is.
I encourage you in this. If you have a brother or a sister who has hurt your feelings, made you angry, or you just plain don’t like, make sure that you show them love. There are those who look in and want to see that we’re different. They want to see that what we believe really does make a change in us. They want to see Jesus Christ acting in the lives of his believers. So, what does this type of love look like?
We are to be patient with one another. Even when the well of patience seems to run dry, the Holy Spirit makes living water well up within us. That living water helps grow us so we produce the Fruit of the Spirit part of which is patience.
We are to be kind. Kindness and gentleness go hand in hand. We are often taught to treat others as we want to be treated. We want to be respected. We want to be understood. And, when we do something wrong, we want to be forgiven. Kindness enables us to do that. Kindness is love in action.
We are to avoid pride in all of its forms. Envy, boasting, dishonoring others so that we appear better or to try to get revenge for a hurt, all of these focus us inward rather than outward. How can we truly show love to others if we are focused only on ourselves? Jesus did not seek his own glory, but rather the glory of his father. So we should also see God’s glory rather than our own.
We should avoid showing love with the purpose of receiving love or thanks in return. Love is a gift and it is an act. It is not something done to receive payment whether through money, deeds, or gratitude. It is done because through loving others, we glorify God and reflect the love he gives us.
We should avoid being easily angered and we should not keep a record of wrongs done to us. Anger is a valid emotion, although it can be a dangerous one. That’s why we’re told to not let the sun go down on our anger. Anger nursed and nourished leads to a vast range of sins. We should be careful of those things which anger us. We should make sure that, if we do become angry, it is for a just reason. When anger arises, we should start moving toward forgiveness. Most of all, we should allow patience, kindness, and gentleness temper our anger. Anger should be slow coming and quick leaving. And, we should not keep a record of the wrongs done us. When God forgives us, he removes our sin from us permanently. He does not keep a record of it. When we keep that list of wrongs others have done, we are dishonoring our master who forgave us our own debt. It is much like the story of the servant who was forgiven a debt and immediately went out and demanded others to pay theirs. He had learned nothing of the love and forgiveness offered by the master. Let us show our understanding of that love!
We should rejoice with the truth and never delight in evil. The truth protects us, it leads us to righteousness, and away from evil. As we mature in Christ, we should be moving away from the things that dishonor him and toward those things that are revealed as good and righteous in him.
And, we should remember that in our love, we are to protect, trust, hope, and persevere. Love, when built in Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, never fails!
So, as our country celebrates a day of love, let us shine the example of lives of love. Let us love one another as Christ loved us and let us show that love to a world that is desperately in need of love.