Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, and always stand your ground in defending him. … There are three things that remain—faith, hope and love—and the greatest of these is love. [I Corinthians 13:4-7, 13 (TLB)]
Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Have you ordered flowers, purchased candy, or planned something special for your sweetheart? Perhaps you purchased one of the 150 million Valentine’s cards (not counting those millions of packaged classroom cards) that will be exchanged this year. Contrary to popular belief, however, Valentine’s Day was not invented by Hallmark cards. Although it is named for one of three Christian martyrs named Valentine and dates back to the 5th century, its origins are in the Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia. For an unofficial holiday of odd origin, it packs an enormous economic impact. Americans spend about $20 billion on Valentine’s Day candy, cards, flowers, dining out, romantic get-aways, and clothing. Apparently some $770 million of that is spent on pets! With even the neighbor’s cat getting something, you might want to think about doing something special for the one you love! After all, over 50% of American women say they’d dump their boyfriends if they didn’t get anything for Valentine’s Day. Besides, you married fellows don’t want to come home empty-handed and be met by a cold shoulder and hot tongue.
Love, of course, has nothing to do with cards, candy, candle-lit dinners or even a week-end retreat. Giving or getting a dozen roses, hockey tickets, a back rub, perfume or even a diamond necklace doesn’t mean we love or are loved. While it is nice to have an excuse for a romantic evening or a day at the spa, let’s not allow this holiday to define our concept of love. 1 Corinthians 13 does a far better job of that than any gift on Valentine’s Day ever could. A good man or woman is hard to find so let’s not get our undies in a bunch over whether or not we received a $5.00 card or a $50.00 bouquet of red roses. Jesus called on us to love, not just on one day of the year, but every moment of every day and that kind of love has nothing to do with chocolate-covered strawberries or sexy lingerie.
Back in elementary school, Valentines had to be sent to everyone in the class so nobody’s feelings got hurt. Real life, however, doesn’t work that way and I know there will be many who won’t be receiving valentines or romantic gifts this weekend. If we have no one special in our lives, let’s not allow this holiday to make us feel unloved or unlovable. We don’t need a card or flowers to know we are treasured and loved—we just need to open our eyes to the beautiful world God gave us to know that. We just need to read our Bibles or think of Jesus on the cross to know we are loved. The Bible is God’s love letter to us and Jesus is His gift. He sent His only son instead of flowers, candy or a Hallmark card. God’s valentine to mankind was sacrificed for our salvation. God truly “cared enough to send the very best!”