It’s the ‘month of love’! I prefer to call it February. Love is always around us but during this time of year we hyper-fixate on love because of…Valentine’s Day.
Every day leading up to V-Day can sort of feel like D-Day. People who are dating or married might be expecting a grand gesture of love from their significant other. For my lovely single people out there (woot! woot!), this day can cause us to feel unloved or alone because we don’t have a love interest to share the day with.
What I find so funny about Valentine’s Day is that in the days leading up to it, there is so much anxiety and high-priced hoopla cascading about. But what happens the day(s) after? Flowers wilt and are thrown away. Expensive chocolates and jewelry are suddenly 50 percent off (probably their real price any way). We move on. We survive.
But do we walk away from Valentine’s Day convicted about the meaning of love? It all depends on whose definition of love we go by…the world’s or God’s (I prefer the latter).
How does our Heavenly Father define love?
In Mark 12:29-31, Jesus responds to a man who asks him ‘yo, what’s the most important thing I’ve go to do in this life?’ (my emphasis). This is Jesus’s response:
“The most important of all the commandments is this: ‘The Lord Yahweh, our God, is one!’ You are to love the Lord Yahweh, your God, with every passion of your heart, with all the energy of your being, with every thought that is within you, and with all your strength. This is the great and supreme commandment. And the second is this: ‘You must love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.’ You will never find a greater commandment than these.”
Here are three important beings we are commanded to love:
Jesus tells us that the number one thing we must do is love God with EVERYTHING in us. Our hearts, actions, thoughts, and strength. I wonder why? Imagine God as refreshing and cold spring water. We can go without many things we use each day but water is not one of them. Water is life. God is our spiritual water. We need water to bathe, clean, cook, drink, and so much more. The human body can survive 21 days without food but only THREE DAYS without water.
How we sustain other parts of our lives (especially relationships) if we are not connected to the source of love — God?
Sometimes we love God but we do not trust God’s love for us. We have a hard time loving ourselves because we don’t believe that God could be so in love with us. The world talk about self-love and self-care a lot. To be honest, the world’s version of self-love is selfish, superficial, and doesn’t fix the gaping sores of self-hate we harbor in our hearts. You might practice ‘self-love’ but are you convinced that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by the all-knowing, Creator God who rejoices over you?
God can free us from self-loathing when we ask Him to show us how He sees us and heal us from our hurts and insecurities.
Other people (besties and frenemies included)
Have you ever heard the saying ‘treat others the way you want to be treated’? It’s even in the Bible…it’s called the ‘Golden Rule.’ We do this whether we know it or not. It often doesn’t come across as golden as we want it to. Have you ever found yourself judging and criticizing another person? You think thoughts like ‘why can’t they be more like this’ or ‘why do they have to act like that?’ Have you ever caught yourself being self-critical? Thinking (and saying) things like ‘why can’t I be more like this?’ or ‘why do I have to act like that?’
The way we treat others is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. As we grow in loving God, we can love ourselves better. In turn, we can love others better. This love is not limited to your besties who you think the world of. Nope, Jesus calls you to treat your arch-nemesis (that person who never seems to have anything nice to say) with the the same type of love.
. . .
This commandment challenges and convicts me every day. Just last week, someone—who always has something snarky to say to me—greeted me. I side-eyed them, barely muttering ‘hello.’ I self-criticized so much this week. And I’ve had (see:many) moments when I didn’t love God with everything in me.
Love is not a feeling, it’s an action. A difficult one at that. Jesus knows that, yet he calls us to follow God’s love standard.
What does Valentine’s Day look like when we practice love God’s way?
Photo: Debby Hudson