It’s February and that can only mean one thing – the world is out to tell you what love is. Stores, advertisers, and even social media will spend the time leading up to February 14th telling you that if you love someone you will buy them something. You will take them out for dinner. You may even propose or be proposed too.
There is even a restaurant allowing you to purchase a $3,000 cheeseburger complete with an engagement ring in it.
The pressure is on ladies and gentlemen to have the biggest Valentine’s Day celebration ever.
But, are we celebrating love or something else on February 14?
What Is Love?
Paul’s first letter to the church of Corinth is full of teachings and lessons. Chapter 13 specifically is known for its description of both love and the gifts given to the church (verse 13). Even though these gifts are given to the church, they are also given to us as we make up the church (1Cor 12:12-13).
The Bible makes it pretty clear when it says, “now abideth faith, hope, and charity” in 1Cor 13:13.
But what is charity? Charity, of course, is love. But it’s not just any love. Rather, it’s a particular type of love. The word used for love here is agape and it’s meaning is affection, goodwill, and love. There are actually several different words used for love in the bible and each one serves a different purpose.
This type of love is the strongest type and that is the kind of love we are supposed to have and show to the world around us.
Where does love come from?
What are some different types of love you can think of? Off the top of my head: God’s love for us; our love for God; parental love for a child; a child’s love for a parent; brotherly love; spousal love. There are all kinds of different types of love both in the world and in the bible.
But, before we can look at the different types of love, we first need to understand where love comes from.
And that would be God Himself, for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8 makes it clear that not only is God love but that without God we really cannot know what love is. In these verses, we are told clearly to love one another because love is from God. It’s not from Hallmark or the candy companies. It’s not in the jewelry counter or even on the menu of your favorite restaurant.
No, love, true love, is from God Himself and without first knowing God we cannot know or give true love.We cannot fully love ourselves, our spouses, our friends, or God Himself without first accepting His love.
But once we do, not only do we have the key to true love, we begin to see the different types of love for what they are.
Love is Sacrificial
We are given the perfect example of sacrificial love by God Himself. First, in John 3:16 we read that God loved us so much that He gave us His Son. He gave His Son to be the perfect sacrifice and pay the penalty for our sins.
Can you imagine, sending your own child away to take the punishement for a crime they never committed?
Then, later in John 15:13, Jesus tells us that there is no greater love than that of man laying down his life for his friends. Here He is probably talking about His own impending death, but also giving us the understanding that this is love in action. This is a sacrificial love that calls for putting the needs of others ahead of our own.
And this type of love is a far cry from what the world teaches today. The world teaches us that love is controlling, needy, and equal. A far cry from the sacrificial examples we have from the Bible.
Love Is Forgiving, Accepting, and Without ConditionLove is all in. It is ready for the long haul, strong and rooted in truth, and not easily swayed. Click To Tweet
“Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves; for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. (1Pet 4:8)” Fervent charity. Is that something we have? This is a love that is exceedingly abundant and without an end. This fervent love doesn’t quit when times get tough, when money gets tight, when someone puts on a few pounds, or when disease strikes.
And it certainly doesn’t quit when something else comes along.
Rather this love is all in. This love is ready for the long haul. It’s strong and rooted in truth, and not easily swayed.
More importantly, this love forgives. This love covers any and all sins and pains and heartache. This love understands that people will hurt us, people will disappoint us, and people will plain fail. But this love is ready to forgive at all times because it knows that hatred and hanging on to things only causes more pain and more division (Proverbs 10:12).
Love Is Action
As much as the world tries to tell us that love is simply a feeling, the bible is clear that love is an action.
God showed us this when He sent us His Son.
Jesus showed us this when He willing went on the cross.
An in 1 John 3:16-18 we are told to show our love in action as well. That it is not enough to simply say we love, but that we are to also show this love “in deed and in truth (verse 18).” In Ephesians 5:2 we are told to “walk in love.” The word walk here means to make one’s way, or, a way to live.
Literally, we are being told to make love a part of how we live. And not just any love, because this verse tells us not only to walk in love but to do so “as Christ also hath loved us.” Regardless of how the other person has treated us. Regardless of how we are feeling that day. And regardless of whether we really want to.
Why Is Love So Important?
For starters, because God is love as we already read.
But also, because He told us to. We are commanded to love (John 14:15, Mark 12:30-31) and if we profess to love Jesus and God, then we need to show love and be love. We need to show this world what true love really looks like. A love that is pure rather than tainted. A love that is sacrificial rather than selfish. One that is forgiving rather than vengeful. A love that is actionable and deep rather than solely emotional and superficial.
A love that shows us living out Romans 5:8 and understanding that God loved us even when we were unlovable.
We need to show the world what it means to feel and know God’s love.
More Than Just One Day Of The Year
So if you feel like going out for dinner this Valentine’s Day, so for it. If you want to buy your someone special something special, then by all means. By all means, shower them with love but make sure you are showing them love every day of the year and not just on February 14th. Make sure you are loving them in a way that makes them sure of your love all year long.
And if not, then search the scriptures. Look for examples and directions above and beyond those included here. The Bible is full of them. And I am convinced that if you spend enough time reading through it you will find that it’s the greatest love story ever told.