“Don’t forget the flowers.”
So says my HyVee Grocery Store mailer the morning before Valentines Day. After all, “Valentines Day is almost here.”
A gorgeous picture of red roses accompanied the reminder. Just $19.99 for 1 dozen wrapped. If that doesn’t catch your fancy, there’s always chocolate molten cake and chocolate covered strawberries to give your special person, the ad portrayed.
Valentines Day, 2017 has come and gone. The symbols of Valentine love lay scattered about our house. Roses with droopy tips. Candy wrappers to put in the trash can under the sink so the dog doesn’t steal them out of the wastebaskets. Stuffed bears that need a special place of their own.
Our world has some interesting perceptions of what symbolizes love. Hearts, chocolate kisses, flowers, more flowers, cookies, red heart shaped boxes full of a selection of chocolates. Don’t forget the stuffed teddy bears and gold necklaces. The more I give you, the more I must love you.
Silly. We all know it’s silly. None of us believe it but it sure is nice to receive it.
If the gift of Valentine candy isn’t love, what is love? As I’ve reflected on how to honor those I love this week, I’ve given that some thought.
Here are five reminders that true love is more than a dozen red roses.
1. Love is an action, not an emotion. The world says don’t do anything you don’t feel like doing. The gifts, the hugs and kisses, the sweet words are symbols of what one feels for another. The Bible says to love one another. It mentions nothing about doing it if you feel like it.
Would I be a hypocrite if I did something I didn’t feel like doing? If you accept that love is an emotion, then yes, you would. If you accept that love is an action, then you can do loving things for others in spite of inner feelings.
2. Love is a verb, not a noun. A person cannot say they love someone, then make selfish choices, hurtful to the other person. How can a guy tell a girl he loves her then be unfaithful to her?
Love is an active verb, not passive. Someone has said, “I love you. I just don’t express it well.” The Bible has a different perspective. Whenever love is mentioned, it is closely linked with an action.
Think of how Jesus loved us.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1
Love does things. Love does what is best for the other person. Love gives; love does not expect to receive.
3. Love is a choice. In fact, love is a continual line of small choice. Every day, I have a number of moments to love other people. Love comes through what I do and what I say. When I speak kindly to a child, I am loving them. My act of fixing a healthy meal for my husband (especially when I’d rather go out to eat at Steak and Shake) is an act of love. Every time I act in someone’s best interest—that is love.
That’s why the answer to the question “Do you love me?” doesn’t satisfy. We know intrinsically that love is an action. I wonder if we ask that question because the person hasn’t been so loving in their actions toward us and we long for affirmation that we are still important to them.
4. Love is a commitment. Because love is this series of actions, it isn’t a one-time deal. It isn’t an “if I feel like it” or “if I’m in the mood” mentality. The action of love is pre-meditated. I plan that I will want what is best for another person and then I set out to do it.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed the beauty of commitment in her timeless sonnet:
“HOW do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seem’d to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of ally my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.”
5. Love is an attitude. Lest you think love is nothing more than a bunch of nice actions, it’s not that simple. Here’s some more Bible verses that remind me about the complexity of love.
“If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it: but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:3
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” – Romans 12:9
In other words, if you’re gonna love, do it because you mean it.
Life would be so easy if love could come package in a heart shaped box or as simple as spending money on gifts. Paul gives his readers a more difficult challenge.
Here’s my challenge.
Pick someone you will spend the most time with over the next twenty-four hours. Decide now to love that person throughout that time period.
How do you do that?
Tailor every action and every conversation around their best interest. Think about what is best for them. Be kind, gentle, forgiving, and serving.
Sometimes your love may have to be tough. You’re doing what is best for them, not necessarily what they will like or what pleases them. If your attitude isn’t all that it should be, ask the Lord who lives within you for His help. Pray for His attitude of love to infuse your own. Your feelings will catch up. Pray that He will help you put that person first in every encounter you have with them.
Now that would be an extra special Valentines Day.
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