What's Love Got to Do with It?
Today is Valentine’s Day. It is a day when the word “love” is thrown around in every general direction. Candy, flowers and gifts are purchased and exchanged. An extravagant amount of money is spent on loved ones. Now, please don’t throw rocks at me. I am not saying Valentine’s Day is wrong. I love to watch husbands scurrying around to get the gift they thought they had plenty of time to get. (I know this because I have been in that crowd before. Remember, messed up people tend to wait until the last minute.)
I am sure you have heard all the love songs from the past, Can’t Help Falling in Love, Love Me Tender, I Just Called to Say I Love You, Crazy in Love. There are way too many to list. Nothing like a good love song, but I am so glad true love is more than just a song and candy.
Valentine’s Day’s history has been debated, but it seems that stories suggest that a priest named Valentine was killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were being beaten and tortured for their faith. Although all the stories about the beginning of Valentine’s Day are murky, it is known that someone, named Valentine, showed a heroic act of love leading to his own death. He chose the life of another over his own.
Wow, to a messed up person like me, that is true love. Why would someone get involved with rescuing others who are in need? Love. I have found that many Christians, who say they are all about love, are hesitant to get involved in people’s lives. Especially if they are the lives of those who profess they are not believers. Why? They are messy. Messiness does not bring people running to help. Messiness usually runs people in the other direction.
Those who are a mess may have struggles and be involved in sins that are unfamiliar to us. We want to help, but we do not know how. When we do not help we feel guilty because Paul encourages us to be ambassadors and invest in relationships with people who are lost. We also read his words on how we should become all things to all people.
Hey, on this Valentine’s Day I have some good news. Really good news. Okay, great news. Yes, people have messy lives, but it is not your job to clean them up. Does that free you up today? It sure does me.
Paul uses an illustration that tells us we can plant a seed, we can put it in great soil and finally we can water it. And that’s about it. We can’t make the seed grow. All we can do is provide the right conditions for the seed to grow at its maximum potential.
Remember, as we love people and minister to them, all we can do is create the right conditions. The messy person, like myself, has the free will and can choose to change, or can choose not to change. All we can do for any individual is to provide the right conditions in a relationship. The freeing part is it is not our decision to make in change. You nor I can make a person change and grow.
I keep saying, the right conditions. What condition is that? LOVE. Love allows everyone to be themselves. If they are messy, it’s okay. If they are all out of sorts, it’s okay. If they are angry, even at God, it’s okay. Love allows a person to be close to you and not be judged. I will never forget the day the Lord placed a gentleman like this in my life. He loved me where I was and he has loved me ever since. He led me to healing. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
It is imperative that we love people in a way where we show grace for people while they are speaking, thinking and acting in ways we may not agree with. We need to have a relationship with folks so we can show them the love that has been shown to us. If you desire to be a person of love, then love someone who is different from you. How would you feel if you were not shown love in your life until you got all things together? As a messy person, I am so glad this was not the case for me.
John 3:16 says, “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.” He loved us in our mess. He loved you in your mess as well. Remember that day? Remember, when you were crying out and Christ heard you? Remember what it was like?
John 15: 9-17 says, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.”
Now listen. Do you hear the cries of the people around you today? If you listen closely there are messed up people who are in need and Jesus tells us to love them. Are you willing to love today? When you think about it this way, true love is way more important than just candy, gifts and love songs. If you know the love of the Father, then you will love others.
I desire more than anything to be a part of a community that loves others completely. Nothing, according to Jesus, is more important than loving God and loving people where they are in life. If we love each other as God has loved us, then we will become a community that will act like a magnet, drawing people who are starving for love into the presence of Jesus so that we can offer the salvation and love He offers.
Let’s not just show this love on Valentine’s Day, but let’s give it out each and every day of our lives.