True Love is talked about, but rarely seen in our modern world. “Be My Valentine,” says God, but what does this mean for us on this Valentine’s Day 2016?
I love you
Arabic – Ana behibek (to female)
Mandarin – Wo ai ni
Filipino – Mahal kita
Farsi – Doset daram
German – Ich liebe dich
Hindi – Hum Tumhe Pyar Karte hae
Italian – Ti amo
Malay – Saya cinta kepada mu
Russian – Ya tebya liubliu
Spanish – Te quiero / Te amo
French – Je T’Aime
Elvish – Amin mela lle (from The Lord of The Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
However you say it, every language has words for it, and every person on earth needs to hear those words. But what is Valentine’s Day all about?
A BIT OF VALENTINE HISTORY…
Claudius was an emperor with a problem… He wanted a huge army, but His men did not want to fight or go to war, they wanted to stay home with their wives and girlfriends. The year was 250AD.
So, as emperors or dictators do, he made a law… That no more marriages were allowed. That way the men would be free of encumbrances and free to fight. The young people called it cruel, and a priest called Valentine thought it ridiculous!
So Valentine defied the emperor by conducting marriage ceremonies in secret, whispering the words of commitment at great risk to himself and the couple he was marrying. One day the soldiers arrived, and Valentine let the couple escape, but he was caught, jailed and condemned to death for defying the emperor.
Many young couples threw flowers into Valentine’s cell, and some like the jailer’s daughter managed to visit him, sitting for hours talking about love and the marriage commitment. She believed that defying the emperor and conducting marriage ceremonies was important.
On the day he was executed, he left her a note thanking her for her friendship, and he signed off, “Love from your Valentine.”
So the tradition of exchanging notes began, and from that first execution day of 14th February 269AD, the date has been remembered as the day when, love proved it will triumph over a cruel and overbearing emperor.
AN ILLUSTRATION OF TRUE LOVE
Valentine’s Day has degraded from remembering Saint Valentine’s selfless love to a cheap, tacky money grabbing exercise to squeeze flowers and chocolates out of couples, or give lonely stalkers he opportunity to voice unrequited love.
In all the commercialism, we’ve lost sight of what love really is. As Foreigner sang, “I want to know what love is,” and don’t we all!
On January 26th, 2005 a California train derailed, killing 11 people and injuring over 200. One of those 200 was a 44 year old man named John Phipps.
Phipps though pinned in the wreckage of the train, scrawled a message in his own blood to his wife and kids. As he regained consciousness, he examined his head and body and saw he was bleeding profusely. An upended train seat sat right above him, and thinking he might be dying, wrote this message: “I (heart symbol) my kids. I (heart symbol) Leslie.” Later he said, “It wasn’t a conscious thought. I’ve always told my wife and kids I loved them, and it just happened. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t say I have to leave a last word. I just wrote it without thinking.”
His rescuers came on the scene minutes later and saw the message. Fire Captain Robert Rosario said, “I’ve seen some gruesome things on this job, but that moved me. My only thought was, I have to get that seat to his wife and kids.” His wife said about the message, “Hallmark is never going to top that. It’s moving, it’s thoughtful and it’s chilling all at the same time.”
John Phipps wrote his message of true love in his own blood, and 2000 years ago Jesus Christ did the same thing. On a day when we celebrate human love, I want to concentrate on the ultimate act of divine love, written in His own blood, the Saviour pouring out His life for you!
So what is true love?
1. TRUE LOVE IS BUILT ON PROMISE
In the US, a divorce is granted every 26 seconds, and we are not much better here. Slightly more than half of all marriages, and nearly 60% of all remarriages end in divorce. Divorces are granted for all kinds of reasons, but the most common rationalization for why marriages end is, “We just don’t love each other as we once did.” As a society, we have come to believe that when the romantic feelings of love have cooled, the relationship is no longer valid.
Please understand, this is not an attack on divorcees, and if you are separated or divorced, God loves you, no matter the circumstances. Like the rest of us, you too are loved, forgiven and have a destiny in Christ, but I want to examine this complex interplay between feelings and true love.
What we need to understand is that relationships should be built upon a promise, not a passion. Should the passion die, relationships can continue because of the promise. In other words: it’s not your love that sustains your commitment, it’s your commitment that sustains your love.
God doesn’t just love you. The Bible says God is love… More than chocolate, more than flowers, more than that gooey feeling inside you, God actually is love.
1 John 4:16
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
God’s love for you is a promise. He will not wake up tomorrow and change His mind.
in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.
2. TRUE LOVE IS COMMANDED
Rick Warren says, Love is more than attraction and more than arousal. It’s also more than sentimentality, like so many of today’s songs suggest. By this standard, is love dead when the emotion is gone? No — not at all — because love is an action, and a behavior.
Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other, and you can’t command an emotion.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
If I told you right now, “Be sad!” you couldn’t be sad on cue. You might be able to fake it, like a good actor should, but nobody is wired for real emotions to change on command.
If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. If He tried, you would say, “But I don’t feel like it, Lord!”
But love is something you do. It’s an action! It can produce emotion, but love itself is an action. It’s a decision. It’s an act of the will
So if your marriage is struggling, don’t try and conjure up a feeling, instead make a decision. We made a vow, before God and man, and we don’t break those vows. Many times when we make the decision to love, the feelings come along after a time.
If your relationship with your kids is struggling, remember you vowed to protect them and bring them up in the Lord. It’s your sacred duty, regardless of how you feel.
3. TRUE LOVE IS DEMONSTRATED
And John doesn’t mince word when it comes to true love… He says, don’t just talk about it, do it… demonstrate it!
1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
It is more than mere words. I can say to my wife, “I love you,” but then ignore her, abuse her or overlook her and what she needs. That’s not love, folks, that’s just useless words (and guys can be very good at that), and we should be offering more than that to those we love, right?
As a young lad, I realised I had a bit of a skill writing and singing songs. I also recognised that these songs could have a desired affect on a young woman. So for a time I had a standard sing where I just changed the name of the girl. Did it work?… Yes. Was it real? Not a chance!
So what type of love are you demonstrating, to your partner, your kids, your family, your friends? Are you all talk and no action? Here’s the standard we are to keep up…
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Yesterday in my Quiet Time I read this from Charles Stanley…
How you love others reflects the love you have for Jesus. Be patient in love, willing to receive little or no thanks for something you have done in love for another, and quick to forgive. Remember, no act of love, including forgiveness, is ever wasted.
4. TRUE LOVE IS REDEEMING
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.
True love buys you back, no matter what you have done in the past. It pays whatever price is needed, does whatever is required, to win their soul. It isn’t stingy with time, money or care… It just pays, and that’s it!
“Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough, to keep me from getting to you!”
Look at Hosea. He married a girl, loved her, cared for her, and she started having sex with other guys all over the place. Then she slipped from adultery to prostitution, and became a sex slave. Then, under God’s instructions, Hosea bought her back
So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”
He’d been hurt, shamed publicly, let down, destroyed by this woman he loved, but his love was such that he bought her back. He did it because God asked him… This was not Pretty Woman!
As has Jesus with us. We’ve hurt Him, shamed Him, let Him down, but He loves us with selfless love, so much that He bought us back!
5. TRUE LOVE IS SELFLESS GIVING
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
So often people think love is what they can get. Men and women trawl bars and the Internet looking for someone to “make love” to for a night, and this is not love at all… It’s lust! It’s me wanting to satisfy my urges by using you. How is that anything like true love?
And the guy pressures the girl into doing it, and the girl thinks if I give him what he wants he’ll love me, and the end is a disaster.
True love is selfless, forgiving, preferring one another love.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Would you lay your life down for those you love? Jesus says this is greater love. Let me ask another question…
Do you say you love Jesus? Would you lay your life down for Him, would you crucify your life, your wants, your dreams, your career and even your family for Christ?
You might say, “Sure, I’d lay down my life for Christ and for those I love.” I know I would. But, and here’s the catch, you most often will not be asked to die for Christ or your loved ones, but you will be asked daily to lay your life down for them.
You see, sometimes it’s easier to die for those you love than it is to live for them.
This is what Jesus meant when He stated,
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
True love is selfless love, never selfish. True love doesn’t say, “What can I get out of this relationship” but “What can I give to this relationship?” Christian marriages work, or at least should work, because when we lay our lives down for Christ we do so for each other.
Even in church, we must lay our lives down and serve each other, not our own interests and opinions. Beware of the so called Christian who obstinately forces their will and opinion on others. You’ll spot them… They’ll be harsh, aggressive and rarely will back down and be humble.
6. TRUE LOVE ENDURES
Love that is true stands the test of time, however hard the road is. I am still in love with my Valentine after 30 years, 3 kids, losing our fortune, our house and sometimes our minds. We’ve worked too hard, hurt too hard and suffered too much in those years, yet through it all we’ve pulled together, not apart.
My love for God is unshakable, as is my love for my wife and family. Even better, God’s love for me is unshakable and eternal. And His love for you is the same. He will never leave you, never forsake you.
True love endures, it lasts for eternity!
You are His Valentine, and He won’t let you go. And nothing, in this world, under it or above it, nothing will ever change His love for you. You can walk away, and He will love you. You can reject Him, and He will still love you, even if His heart breaks as you get what you deserve for your rebellion!
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing will separate you from God’s love, unless you choose to walk away… Nothing! That’s how eternal His love is you you.
Whether you are single or in a relationship, God’s love for you is all of what we’ve talked about today and more. It never ends, it never breaks, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.
God’s love never fails! And today you are His Valentine. You are the love of His life, you are the apple of His eye.
Today, whether you are in a relationship or not, we have arranged a very special Valentine’s Day gift for you…