Happy Valentine’s Day!
I hope today is a day of joy for you, although I know several of my friends who will be feeling the ache of loss, as their “valentine” has gone on to be with Jesus in the recent past. That’s one of the things I don’t really like about my current age/stage of life…your friends start getting impatient, pass you in the fast lane, and get to heaven before you. The perils of living to a “ripe old age” is that you know more people there than here!
It is, however, a day when we interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to say, “I love you” to the special people in our lives. I like how it starts in preschool. Each child picks out a box of valentines and writes one for every other child in the classroom by name. At that age, there’s no thought of excluding anyone; every classmate is worthy, and in return, you get a valentine from everyone. How sad that we grow up to measure and evaluate the people in our lives on whether or not they are worth being loved!
Jesus clarifies this wrong assumption in Luke’s abbreviated record of the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20-49). Jesus focuses a lot of His message on how we treat other people, and our responsibility to love all people, even our enemies!
Luke 6:27-28, 31,35 – But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. … Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. … But love your enemies, and do good and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
He goes on to remind us to take the log out of our own eyes before hypocritically calling out others for the speck in theirs. Humility is a great way to love others so that they are able to understand how God loves them.
If we live for Christ, there are going to be people in our lives who don’t love us back. Jesus says it is a blessing when men hate you and ostracize you and insult you and scorn your name as evil for the sake of the Son of Man (6:22). We can love others and tell them the truth at the same time, and the fact is, the truth (the gospel) is offensive to those who reject it. Peter (who was listening to this very message) writes many years later to remind us to patiently endure it when we suffer unjustly (for the cause of Christ). We are to sanctify Christ as Lord, give a respectful and gentle answer for our hope in Christ, and not fear or be intimidated by those who oppose us. We are to keep a good conscience by behaving properly so that we do not put Christ to shame (1 Peter 2:19-20, 3:14-17). If we suffer because we’re just rude and hateful to those who oppose us, the message of God’s love is obscured, and we deserve the suffering!
Godly love is concerned about the souls of men, more than being loved back. Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
Who do you need to show love today? Loving others, even our enemies, or those who resist the message of the gospel, is a great testimony to the love of God that has been poured out in our hearts. Let’s commit to loving others unconditionally, whether or not they return the feeling. Let’s tell the truth without apology, come what may, but let’s tell it with love and humility in our hearts. That’s a valentine worth sharing.