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Blog #378: Valentine’s Day and Having a Biblical Understanding of Love

With February 14th being Valentine’s Day, it may be good to remember how Valentine’s Day came about. The original Valentine was a priest in Rome at the time when Claudius, the Emperor of the Roman Empire, became disturbed by reports that recruitment to the Roman army was lagging because of men being unwilling to leave their wives and families behind. In response, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages. For his impertinence, he was arrested, tried, and beheaded on February 14th, 270 A.D. He was later declared to be a “saint” by the Roman Catholic Church, and, modern day greeting card and chocolate shop companies turned February 14th into a behemoth of money-making.

But what does the bible say about the topic of “love”? The apostle John describes love in the following three passages:

· For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

· See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! (1 John 3:1)

· For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:11-18)

Additionally, the apostle Paul penned these famous words about love:

· If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 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. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

Finally, our Lord Jesus Christ, in response to a question by the Pharisees that they thought might trip him up, that being, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” had this to say,

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

So, as you ponder love, certainly be romantic, but remember the much-more that the Bible tells us about how we should view love.

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