On Valentine’s Day, Remember: The World Gets Love Half-Wrong
Valentine's Day is an opportunity to reflect on what love means — and what it does not.
Valentine’s Day makes people think about love. What is it? How do I know it’s real? Can it last? Should it last? Here are a few secular definitions of love:
A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved — novelist Kurt Vonnegut
What is love but acceptance of the other, whatever he is — French erotic writer Anaïs Nin
Love is like a fever which comes and goes quite independently of the will — French novelist Stendhal
Love is a fog that burns [away] with the first daylight of reality. — Hip poet Charles Bukowski
So, the world says, love is loving who you’re with, accepting others, fickle, fleeting and unrealistic. That’s not all wrong, but even when it’s true, it’s not the whole truth.
What is Love, Actually?
I’d like to propose a new definition of love. Well, it really isn’t a new definition at all — it’s thousands of years old! Those of us who are Christians are familiar with the Author of love, whose love is perfect and embraces us daily. John defines love, through the example of Christ, like this:
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren — 1 John 3:16
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends — John 15:13
Deuteronomy 7:9 gives us an another example of God’s love:
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations [my emphasis]
Love, as God defines it, is steadfast — enduring — to a thousand generations! God’s love has nothing to do with fickle or fleeting emotions. It is true, long-lasting and unconditional. Love is selfless, self-giving — even to the point of laying down our lives for another.
I’m not advocating throwing our lives away, but I am saying — and I believe God is saying — that we must live in such a way that others see Christ in us. His love was sacrificial — He chose to lay down His life for us.
On a Day Like Valentine’s Day
Jesus died on the cross to atone for our wrongdoing, then he rose from the grave and now sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. That is the ultimate meaning of love: sacrificial, enduring and unconditional love poured out for others and to further our Kingdom purpose.
So when we think about a day like Valentine’s Day, let’s remember the definition of true love. It’s not flighty, fickle emotion, but a life that represents and reflects Christ through selfless giving toward others — a love that changes lives and lasts for all time.