Valentine’s Day is approaching. Quite soon couples will be exchanging tokens of their affection for one another over dinner, a night at the ballet, cheese and wine, beautiful jewelry, a stroll along the river, and countless other ways in order to celebrate love.
In observing how our culture advertises, promotes and celebrates Valentine’s Day, it concerns me that perhaps we have distorted the very definition of love.
Let’s review definitions for “love”:
- Love is patient and kind, love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude… (1 Corinthians 13)
- Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25)
- See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God (1 John 3:1)
- By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)
These statements indicate that love is selfless, sacrificial, intentional, seeking another’s best interests, adoptive welcoming another into a deep familial relationship… The love described in these passages is so much more than a feeling – it’s a decision; a commitment.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “love” differently:
- a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties
- warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion
- unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another
- an amorous episode
- the sexual embrace
Can you see a difference? The scriptures speak of something deep, committed and action based. Our modern usage of the word emphasizes affection, feeling, and sexual relationships.
My attempt is not to deny the validity of affection, but rather to emphasize that “love” is much more.
On this Valentine’s Day, what will you celebrate? Will you celebrate affection? An “amorous episode”? Warm attachment, enthusiasm or devotion?
I hope that you will seek to celebrate a love that is all that, but much more. Celebrate commitment. Celebrate sacrificial love. Celebrate love that seeks another’s best interest even at the loss or possible loss of your own. Celebrate a love that builds another up. Celebrate love that will be there through thick and thin, gladness and mourning, sickness and in health, in wealth or poverty.
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Ephesians 5:25 Happy Valentine’s Day.