Today is Valentine’s Day, and though it’s become synonymous with roses, hearts, and candy, the true purpose of this holiday is to honor love. Of course, popular culture has given us thousands of songs and images to convey its own version of this mysterious virtue, but the fact remains that there is only one way to define love, and that’s God. The Bible says that God is love, and if we invert that phrase, we learn that love is also God. Since the Lord is the essence of this powerful force, we can infer that the life of His Son, Jesus, is the greatest personification of it. Interestingly, as we study the walk and ministry of Christ, we see love offered through kindness, miracles, and charity, but most often, it’s shown through sacrifice. Far from the tingly, feel-good, and self-fulfilling variety that’s depicted in our world, our Savior demonstrates that love goes and love gives. Though He was God and had no need of anything from humanity, Jesus chose to give up everything, even His own life, in order to display the depth of His affection for us. He repeatedly walked into the middle of a mess — often mocked, belittled, and ridiculed by the very ones He created — to pave the way for us to be set free. He went, He did, and He died to show us how much we are loved and to leave us an example of how to love others. That said, while He freely lavishes His affection on us, there’s pain in the sacrifice, patience, and long-suffering we must embrace to pay it forward. Only as the Holy Spirit works in our souls are we equipped to love unconditionally and to “be in it” with others for the long haul.
My friend, the perfect love of God has found a home in you! As you embrace the kindness, power, and favor He has poured into your midst, you can live as His beloved and experience a joy that can’t be humanly generated. When Christ’s deep and abiding goodness takes root in your heart, you are free to pay it forward to others through self-sacrifice. Though it’s not easy for your flesh, your Savior equips you to pull up your bootstraps and walk the long road of patience with people — whether your spouse, kids, parents or friends — so that they, too, can know what it means to be fully and unconditionally loved.