Valentine’s Day vies with Christmas as my favorite holiday. I’ve shared before why I think it’s worth celebrating and compiled a list of some of my favorite quotes, songs, etc. for Valentine’s Day.
Of course, everyone is free to celebrate or not celebrate the day according to their own preferences. And though I love the fun and even silly aspects of the day, today I want to take a different tack.
One of my ongoing struggles in my Christian life is learning to love as Jesus did, and my biggest obstacle is my own selfishness.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 14:4-7
Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
Let brotherly love continue. Hebrews 13:1
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. 1 Peter 1:22
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. 1 John 2:5
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:2-3 (This might be a surprising one to some, but Jesus said “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). If we love someone we don’t disregard their words: we take heed and try to keep them. He also said all the law and the prophets hang on to the command to love God and our neighbor.)
I was just discussing with a friend earlier this week how we often hear that Christian love is not just a warm fuzzy feeling: rather, as one professor used to put it, it’s a “self-sacrificing desire to meet the needs of the cherished person.” I think of a mother being awakened at 2 a.m. by her baby’s cries. She might not feel lovey-dovey right at first: in fact she might feel a little irritable. But she knows her baby needs her, and often, some time during their nocturnal meeting, that warm, loving feeling rises up again.
However, the opening of the great love chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, warns us that we can make substantial sacrifices without doing so in love.
In my ongoing quest to understand what Christian love is and to grow in it, I compiled Bible verses which specifically spoke of praying to love. I sometimes use them for my own prayers.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19. (It’s interesting to note that right after this prayer comes Paul’s’ declaration, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think . . . “)
And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Of course, it helps to remember that love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and I can only be filled with love as I am filled with Him.
And since we’re to love as God does did, it helps to meditate on how He showed love to us. That would take more study and a different post, but here are a few ways:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 John 3:16
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10
Those verses don’t enlighten me as to the “feeling” part of love, but they show that God loved first, He loved people who were enemies to Him, and He made every provision, at the highest cost to Himself, to redeem them.
The more I think about the myriad ways He has shown His love to me, the more His love will fill me and overflow to others.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. John 15:9
(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday)