Happy Valentine’s Day!
Growing up, we never made a really big deal about Valentine’s Day, except we did do one thing that I always loved. Remember those elementary school valentines you exchanged with your friends? Sometimes the teacher would have a craft day and we’d make “mail boxes” of some sort to receive our valentines. I loved going to Kmart, or Roses, or Sky City (back in the days before Walmart) to pick out my box. They had to be just the right design. And of course, every classmate got one, because it would be rude to leave anyone out. I loved giving those little valentines, and I loved opening up my stack and seeing all my friends’ names.
If only love and friendship stayed that simple!
Adult love is a lot more complicated. It’s messy and hard. We grow up, and we commit ourselves to one another for life (I still believe in marriage and keeping the vows I made). We bring babies into the world and watch them grow up, and then they have babies of their own. We buy houses and cars and settle into our homes. And here we are, decades later, still together. It’s not perfect, and not without its challenges, but our love for each other has lasted…but only by the grace of God!
How do you stay in a marriage relationship till death do you part?
How do you love family members and friends, even when they are unlovable?
Is it even possible? I believe it is, and Jesus gives us a really simple formula:
Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Then you’ll be able to love others.
My heart. The seat of my affections and desires, hopes and dreams.
My soul. The part of me that contains my emotions, feelings, likes and dislikes; my personality.
My mind. Where every thought, every prejudice, every opinion resides.
My strength. My hands and feet, my physical body.
Loving God means centering my affections on Him. It means He is my highest treasure, my one desire. When I love God with all my heart I pin all my hopes and dreams on Him. My heart belongs to Him first and foremost, not to my spouse, or any other person.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 – May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
Loving God means I trust God with my feelings. I do not expect my spouse to always know how I feel, but I take all my emotions to God first. I first allow Him to fill me up through the Spirit who indwells me, trusting that He is able to handle my frustrations, my weaknesses, and yes, even my meltdowns! I let His word lead me, placing truth before feeling.
Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Loving God means every thought is held captive and measured against the word of God. Every opinion is surrendered to the truth, and when it is found to be in opposition to the way God thinks, it is discarded. I change my mind (repent) to align myself with the mind of Christ who indwells me. Loving God means carefully guarding everything that comes into my mind, which in turn helps me think about my spouse and others with a right perspective.
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell [think] on these things.
Loving God means acknowledge that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, and that I am not my own. Everything done in my body is to be for His glory, not to satisfy my own desires or needs. Loving God means that my physical strength is to be spent on things that bring pleasure and honor to the Savior.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
Loving God means I can love others.
When our heart and soul has found its satisfaction and worth in the God who loves us most and best…
When our mind is filled with the truth of God’s love-letter to us…
When our physical bodies are used for words and deeds that glorify God…
Then we will truly be able to love. In fact, we can’t help but love, because it will be a natural response to the love of God which has been poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5).
I pray your Valentine’s Day is filled with the love of friends and family, but most of all that you know the love of God that fills you up to overflowing.