1 John 4:18–21 (ESV)
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
As we approach the day that is called Valentine’s Day the topic of love shows up a lot. On the walls at schools, we most likely see things like hearts and perhaps the bow and arrow of the character known as Cupid. We often associate Valentine’s Day with romantic love and the reason for that is mostly because of our culture taking something from the Church and messing it up in a major way see also Christmas and Easter. St. Valentine was a saint that sought to uphold Christian marriage in a world that operated counter to Christian marriage, doesn’t sound too unlike our own times. He would die for his faith in God and Christ, standing on the truth of what Marriage was and became the patron saint of lovers. Which was adopted by our culture and now we have Valentine’s Day.
Love is so much more than what we see in the world on Valentine’s Day. Love is not about chocolates and candy hearts no matter how much you enjoy those things. Love is about self-sacrifice, love is not easy, love takes time and effort and love is not always fun. Love is not something that comes natural to anyone of us because we are by nature self-centered people. We know how hard it is to love and when we love it means putting our wants and even needs behind others. Loving is not our first instinct.
Where we see perfect love is not on a date on Valentine’s Day but rather on a cross on a dark Friday. We see perfect love in our savior who loved us before we even existed and defiantly before we loved him. Our love for Jesus was not a precondition for his love for us. His love for you caused him to die and rise for you that you would have forgiveness. If we need a picture of self-sacrificing love there is only one place to look and that is to Jesus.
Luke 10:27–28 (ESV)
27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
This verse is hopeless without the gospel. Every time I drive on 35 up towards the cities I see a billboard that has this very verse on it and it breaks my heart. Out of the context of scripture, this verse only can produce two things the first being pride and the second is despair with no hope. I cannot by my own reason or strength do what this verse says. In the context of the rest of scripture, we can know that the love that we have for God starts with his love for us and that the love that we have for our neighbor starts also with the love that God has for us. If love is up to us WE WILL FAIL, but love always starts and ends with God and his love for you and me now we get to share the love of God with those around us that by his grace they may also know the God who loves them!