CELEBRATING LOVE ALL YEAR!
“Why do we celebrate a “Day of Love” in mid-February which actually the Bible calls us to celebrate it all year?”
“Oh, how delightful you are, my beloved; how pleasant for utter delight! You are tall and slim like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters of dates. I said, ‘I will climb up into the palm tree and take hold of its branches.’ Now may your breasts be like grape clusters, and the scent of your breath like apples. May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine, smooth and sweet, flowing gently over lips and teeth.
Song of Songs 7:6-9
When I think of celebrating Valentine’s Day, I immediately go to this emotion expressed by Solomon to his lover, and ponder how I can express it to my own wife. This is a Biblical principle from the Word of God! This book was included in the Bible for just this reason.
Yet when I take the entire Scriptures, I realized that the concept of Love goes beyond this romantic, physical love expressed here. Please take a moment with me to explore the deeper meanings. . .
One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35-40
Jesus is quoting Deutronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 in this famous passage. The key word used here in the Hebrew is “Ahab”, which is defined as “love, desire, delight, like, be fond of, covet, be beloved, amiable, be a passionate lover.”
Matthew uses the Greek Word “Agapao” in his account, which indicates “direction of will and finding one’s joy in anything.”
According to Jesus, Ahab and Agapao are central to the concept of being a Christian. Listen to what He told his disciples:
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
It’s not how much we know that is important, but how much we do! Aren’t you glad He didn’t say: “The world will know you are my disciples by how well you can explain all the important doctrines in the Bible.”! NO, the central issue in our day-to-day lives a Christians is how well we direct our will toward placing others interest above our own. That is what it means to love others.
This month, we celebrate a day dedicated to the heart of Christianity- Loving others. It all stems from a time in Third Century Rome when the Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers, and outlawed marriage for young men- his pool for potential soldiers. A Christian priest, Valentine, continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret, defying the edict. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, he was put to death on February 14th, 269 A.D.
In Ancient Rome, February 15th was “Lupercalia”, the festival of Lupercus, the god of fertility. It was a day where goats were sacrificed, and the pagan priests would run through the streets, holding goat skins, and touching anyone they met, believing that this would cause great “fruitfulness” and bring easy childbirth. The year after Valentine’s death, the local church began celebrating “Valentine’s Day” in memory of Valentine, and hopefully turning many Romans away from the pagan “ Lupercalia” worship toward the One True God.
For our culture, February 14th is a day we set aside to express love to our wives, and dear friends. When I became a follower of Jesus, I began to realize that He wanted us to celebrate Valentine’s Day every day.
Every day? That is the difference in one who takes what the Bible commands seriously.
. Meditate on what Jesus told His disciples:
I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends. John 15:12-13
It is all about placing your focus on others, and doing what is best for them in a situation, not necessarily for you. Celebrating Valentine’s Day is really all about a radical lifestyle of “others-centeredness”. Think of that this month every time you see a red heart, a box of candy, a bouquet of roses. Jesus calls us to love our friends, our acquaintances, and those unknown people around us. But there is more:
“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45
Jesus is insistent that we love even our cultural, political, and international opponents. We will find these “enemies” in the editorial pages, coffeehouses in the Middle East, sometimes next door, and even perhaps in the pew behind us at church. This is Love!
Can we do it? Will we settle for celebrating a cultural secular Valentine’s Day on February 14th, or will be adopt a radical lifestyle of Loving Other? That will be decided in our day-to-day, moment-by-moment choices.
My counsel: Begin with the Song of Solomon principle, and move on to the John 15 commandment.
Happy Valentine’s Day!