It’s love week. Everyone is thinking about upcoming Valentine’s Day. For some, it’s “singles awareness day”. But even so, it’s still appropriate to be reminded of those you love and those who love you: Family, friends, etc…
When I first got married, I remember trying to do special things for my wife on Valentine’s Day. It didn’t take me long to realize she didn’t appreciate my gifts on Valentine’s Day as much as I had hoped.
If you know my wife, you know that she is a great woman who shows love to many. She wasn’t being inappropriately dismissive; she had a different perspective on the holiday. For her, getting gifts of love on Valentine’s Day is like getting a hug from a kid whose parents told them to do it. Valentines Day is a great reminder to love, but to love only on Valentine’s Day or because of Valentine’s Day is disingenuous.
If we love out of duty, then we aren’t loving.
Think about it. If someone gave you a gift, but when you thanked them for it, they responded with, “Well, I had to give it to you; it was my duty.” How would you feel? Would you have the warm-fuzzy’s for that person and their gift? If the only time we show love is when it’s expected, then are we really loving others?
Why should we love?
Other people are difficult. They’re a pain to deal with. They argue with us and make life a mess all around us. And we’re difficult too, so why should we love them?
Have you been loved?
In church, it seems like the greatest trump card answer is either God or Jesus. Have They loved you? Someone once said this about Jesus: “Jesus said, ‘I love you this much.’ And he stretched out his arms and died.” Do you see the love of Jesus? Do you experience the love of God, the Father? Do you understand what has been done on your behalf regardless of your appreciation or response or devotion or understanding? If so, you’ve been loved.
Have you been loved by anyone else? Mother, Father, Sibling, Significant Other, Friend, Co-worker, Boss, Employee, Random Stranger. Has anyone shown you love?
If you’ve been loved, then the appropriate response is to love in return. To refrain from loving others is to show contempt for the love you’ve received.
Yes, love is a command, but love is also the “why” behind the command. God wants us to love others because He already loves them. He has already sacrificed so much and created so much for them. He already sees them as His children, and just as you want others to love your children, so God wants us to love His children.
But not out of duty. Instead, we should love out of appreciation. We love in reciprocation. We love in adoration – for God and for those God loves.
If we only love on Sundays, we are hypocrites. If we only love those who love us, we are selfish and without the heart of Jesus who loved those who crucified Him. If we only love on holidays, our love is shallow and meaningless.
Instead, choose to love everyone. Don’t categorize people. Do what is necessary to love everyone equally. Listen to them and find out how to love them best. Love is a choice we make to treat others how we would want to be treated because we’ve already received grace and mercy.
And don’t just do it on Valentine’s Day.