On the day when the world celebrates “love” with flowers, cards, candy, and various other trinkets, what part does it play in the Christian life?
Actually, the love celebrated on Valentine’s Day by the world is not the love that the Christ-believer celebrates every day. Valentine’s Day is a day in which sensuality, materialism, and commercialism are thinly veiled in the name of love. While there is nothing wrong with showing love toward loved ones with gifts, mere worldly love does not reflect the true love that Christians celebrate daily.
Every moment of our lives we celebrate the love of Jesus as it was given and shown in His life and death as our substitute. The Lord Himself explains both the perfect love He has for us and the love He wants us to have for others when He teaches: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).
This love is known in Christian circles as agape (Greek: ah-gah-pay) love—the highest and greatest form of love demonstrated by God to a lost and fallen world through His Son, our Savior Jesus. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
The love seen in advertisements for flowers and candy is a far cry from the love we as God’s redeemed and dearly loved children celebrate and rejoice in every second of our lives. Worldly love does not give any kind of lasting assurance or peace. But the love God demonstrates for all mankind is the all-consuming and unconditional love expressed in the familiar passage, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
God’s agape love shown in Jesus produces faith, forgiveness, and salvation by the Spirit working through the gospel. Such “true love” shown in our lives can only be a gift of the Spirit. Its greatest demonstration is always and only in Christ’s life and death. God’s true love for us is celebrated not only on one particular calendar day but continually by those who have been called to faith in Christ.
The love Jesus shows and we as His children strive to have is always pointed away from self. True Christian love is first and foremost for our Savior God, and thus radiates outward rather than inward in true reflection of Christ’s love.
Whether on Valentine’s Day or any day, we strive to practice the love empowered by Jesus: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).
Dear Christian, give your “sweetheart” candy and flowers and gifts if you will. But if you want to give true love, give Christian love—love such as that shown in our Savior’s life and death freely given for us unworthy sinners. “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).