Today is Saint Valentine’s Day… a day to honour a 3rd century Jesus follower who was beheaded for his faith. There’s nothing particularly romantic or lovey dovey about Valentinus but our culture has adopted his name and attached it to a day to celebrate everything romantic. Oddly enough, in most liturgical calendars February 14th is the patron saint day of Cyril and Methodius and has nothing to do with St. Valentine at all.
It appears that we humans just want to celebrate love. We place a high value on the word love and it seems like the perfect thing to commemorate. Plus, it’s always nice to have an excuse to eat chocolate.
Romantic love doesn’t have a huge footprint in the Bible. The quick go-to for an amorous representation of love is the book, Song of Songs (sometimes referred to as the Song of Solomon):
Song of Songs 3:2b-4a
“I must seek him whom my soul loves [sheh-ahavah]. I sought him but did not find him.
The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me,
And I said, ‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves [sheh-ahavah]?’
Hardly had I left them when I found him whom my soul loves [sheh-ahavah];
I held on to him and would not let him go.”
We’re happy to note the romantic poetry of the Song of Solomon or the great love between Ruth and Boaz, but culture today tends to question whether there really is a Creator who loves His creation. Through the prophet Malachi, YHWH spoke of this:
“I have loved [ahav’ti] you,” says YHWH. “But you say, ‘How have You loved us [a’hav’tanu]?’”
God’s love is not about chocolates or bouquets of flowers, and it’s not about being smitten, or enamoured, or twitterpated. (Owl in the 1942 film, “Bambi” gave a good definition of what those things mean). God’s love is about devotion and sacrifice and purity in the heart. When Yeshua (Jesus) spoke to Nicodemus, explaining His mission, He said:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”
God’s great love that He had for His creation was sacrificial. That is true love. Yeshua didn’t hide that fact when He spoke to His disciples:
“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends.”
Yeshua did just that for us! He laid His life down so we could truly live. It’s the greatest love story of all time.
For more on the Hebrew understanding of the word love (ahav), click on the word below:
Next week: TREASURED POSSESSION