Happy Valentines Day!
What does it really mean to love someone?
L earning as much as possible about them.
O ffering them what you’d like to keep for yourself.
V ery happily accepting them as they are.
E ntering into their world , and seeing things from their point of view.
Think back to the first time you told your husband / boyfriend you loved him. The chances are (if, for you, that was long enough ago to make history,) you know a lot more about love today.
Remember, back then, how love seemed like a never- ending river of chocolate; red velvet hearts and music from the "Magic Flute?"
But, once you got married, you realized that love is, "for better, for worse; in sickness and in health …"
I think, achieving that self-sacrificing, forgiving, "not keeping a record of wrongs" kind of love (1Corinthians 13) is a life-long learning experience. Maybe that’s why the marriage vows are worded "till death us do part."
Back in the 70’s, my husband (then boyfriend) used to give me those little porcelain "Love is" figurines as gifts. We always thought it was fun, composing our own captions for them. For years, my favorite one has been "Love is when he brings you breakfast in bed on Sunday morning." That is until a couple of weeks ago … My latest one now reads, "Love is when he pays for you to go to your first Christian Writers’ Conference!" (Trust me, it was awesome - I didn’t come down off the "high" for three days! But more about that later.)
Lately, I’ve been studying 2 Peter:1. Peter has a comprehensive list here of all the qualities we need to add to our faith (v.5-7). (Faith is a given, since he is writing to Christians.) We need to add goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and last of all - the ultimate - LOVE.
Do you think Peter is saying that we need to acquire all of these attributes in order to practice Biblical love?
If we compare Peter’s words to Paul’s list of the components of love in 1 Corinthians 13, they are very similar.
Paul says love is basically all of the above plus more - "Love is patient; not rude, envious, self-seeking or easily angered; always protects, trusts and hopes and never fails." When it comes to faith, hope and love, Paul says, the greatest, (but also the hardest, I think) is love.
So much for the chocolate river!
But getting back to Peter’s letter, think of how far this fisherman had come.
We see him in John 18 denying Jesus three times; then we meet him in John 21, enjoying a fish barbecue on the beach with Jesus and some other disciples. This is where Jesus challenged him by asking him three times, "Do you truly love me? " Indignantly, Peter
replied, "I do."
"Then , let your work match your words, " said Jesus. "Feed my sheep."(paraphrasing)
Well, Peter went on to do amazing things in the New Testament. In Acts 2, after he preached to a crowd, 3000 people were saved; he healed a crippled beggar; he wrote two Epistles, etc. thus proving how he surely knew that love involves work.
And isn’t it interesting that Jesus says the two greatest commandments involve love?
1. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind."
2 "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt 22: 37-40)
Perhaps Jesus also meant that they were the two hardest commandments. Obviously, if we’re going to love God with every compartment of our heart, soul and mind, it involves keeping all His other commandments - not committing adultery, lying, or stealing, loving our enemies etc. - in other words, loving our neighbor as ourself.
It is only with the power of God working in and through us that we can practice this level of love.
Thirty years ago, my husband and I had the words "The greatest of these is
Love" (1Cor.13:13) printed on our wedding reception napkins (and naturally we kept one as a momento.)
Today, I can’t quite put my finger on that napkin, but I’ll always know where I can find the love!