Let’s live our lives like Saint Valentine and love others.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
Romans 12:9-10 NLT
Every year, on February 14th, we observe Valentine’s Day with cards, candy, and gifts to celebrate devotion and romantic love. But are you familiar with the Christian origins of this holiday? The day is named after Saint Valentine of Rome, a Christian martyr persecuted for his faith. Not much is known about his life, but he is associated with romantic love and marriage because he performed weddings for couples in secret to keep their husbands from going off to war. He was imprisoned for refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods of the day, and while he was in jail, he healed the jailer's daughter of blindness. Ultimately, he refused to renounce his faith and was executed on February 14, 269 AD. He left the jailer’s daughter a note signed on the day of his execution signed, "Your Valentine."
That’s not the happy ending we hopeless romantics would have wished for, is it? But this story is inspiring because Saint Valentine was motivated and propelled by a love beyond his selfish desires. He lived his life not for himself but for others. He was inspired by the love of Jesus that changed his life, and he lived in response as an offering serving others in gratitude and worship.
No matter where you find yourself this Valentine’s Day - happily married to the spouse of your dreams, in a tough season in your marriage, or secretly wishing you were single. Maybe you are in a season of singleness and longing to be married, or you would give anything to have one more Valentine’s Day with a loved one who is no longer here - take heart. There is a love that never fails, one we can know intimately that is greater than any love this world offers. Psalm 34:18 reminds us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. In this world, we will have trouble, but we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus has already won and has overcome every heartache and every hurt. Marriage and friendships are gifts from God that we enjoy temporarily while we are here on this earth, but as King David says in Psalm 63:1,
“I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name, I will lift up my hands.”
Let’s live like Saint Valentine, pouring out love for others because Jesus poured out His love for us. Loving others above ourselves is the ultimate and highest form of love; in doing so, we become more like Him, which is our goal. So let’s do exactly as Paul commands us in Romans 12 - let’s not just pretend to love the people around us. Let’s really love them even when it’s hard, even when it hurts. Let’s hate what is wrong and hold tightly to what is good. Let’s love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other the way Christ modeled for us, and as we do so, we honor Him. Let us love others as Christ loved us, always giving honor and glory to Him.