Love is in the air! So the merchants say, as they prepare to foist their wares upon unsuspecting souls.
The new year barely settles in before Santa makes way for Cupid and his stash of chocolates, fluffy white bears and all things red and heart-shaped. Opportunistic advertisers pull out all the stops. They may find homes for that unsold champagne yet. Time to rework that New Year’s Day jingle…
All this while oodles of cheese and Easter bun orders linger in the wings.
Ah, yes! ‘Love’ is in the air alright – the love of money and commercialisation. Merchants ring their bells, promote a single night of passion and excitement, and they depend on the Pavlovian response of giddy couples to line their cavernous pockets.
*whisper* I need to share something with you that the advertisers will never tell you. Are you ready for it?
Here it is: If you are waiting with bated breath for V-Day and all it is said to represent, it is highly likely that you have been getting the rest of the year wrong. Unless February 14 happens to be your wedding day, in which case… Carry on. 😉
(N.B. ‘The rest of the year’ refers to the span of time between one Valentine’s Day and the other.)
For the Christ-follower, love has no season because daily expression is part and parcel of the Christian walk.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Paul shies away from offering up a tidy definition for love and outlines instead what love does and does not do. He declares early on (verses 1-3), that eloquent preaching, generous giving, great faith, or even martyrdom will accomplish nothing without this love. It is evident that Paul is not discussing options. Love is a ‘must-have’ for the Christian walk.
Love, he says, does not envy, parade itself, seek its own interests or rejoice in wrongdoing. It is not puffed up, rude or easily provoked. It thinks no evil. Love is longsuffering and kind. It “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (NKJV)
We see this other-centred principle again when Paul writes to the Philippian church:
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” (KJV, Philippians 2:3-4)
He holds up Jesus as the Ultimate other-centered Servant and says that is the kind of mind that every believer ought to have. The mind of Christ.
The kind of mind that celebrates truth and shuns every form of evil. The kind of heart that extends grace to others and never grumbles about the lousy ‘return on investment’. One that contemplates impact beyond its tiny bubble before launching words into the atmosphere. That embraces other-centred service, even when it is not convenient, and loves as Christ loves.
Love – the capstone of Christian virtues – requires a laying down of self that is never easy, but we are not asked to struggle to acquire it. It is the natural outgrowth of a continued relationship with the God who is Love. Our collective responsibility is to show up for duty, and even that only happens because His Spirit prompts. Truly, it is He who works in us “to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
Any relationship that is built on this principle will not be short on godly passion. And where passion is lacking, wisdom should cause you to be wary of any flutters brought about by chocolate. There is a chance that lactose-intolerance could be rearing its ugly head.
So, while the world is all agog, searching for love in strange places, now is as good a time as any for believers to re-examine their relationships (horizontal and vertical). Hold every motive up to the Light of the Divine Standard to see how it measures up. Without exception, you will find that there is much room for improvement.
Commit to improving your relationship with your First Love – Jesus Christ. Serve as He served, doing absolutely everything for the glory of God and the benefit of your fellowmen. Not seasonally, but daily. Without partiality.
Always by His grace.
Then behold the impact of that choice on all your relationships.
Abundant blessings to you and yours – beyond Valentine’s Day. 😉
Images from Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)