My Reader, are you planning to send any valentines in the upcoming days? Although I do not like the commercialism of Valentine’s Day, I want to challenge you to think about extending appreciation and affection to those around you. Many people think more about receiving valentines than sending them, but unless these tokens of love are sent by someone how can they be received by anyone? In Acts 20:35, Paul reminds us of words spoken by Jesus, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
To whom would you like to send a valentine? Most first responses will be to name family members such as a spouse or children. My traditional valentine to my husband and children used to be large heart-shaped chocolate chip cookies that I baked. (The one for my husband was larger than those for our two kids!) I also taught our children the gift of giving by having them make and send valentines to their out-of-state grandparents. However, today I want to make a different suggestion to you. Would you be willing to send a Valentine Prayer to the Lord for someone with whom you struggle or for a person with whom you have a strained relationship or someone who has hurt you? You may not immediately like my suggestion but please hear what I am saying. It is not only what I am suggesting but it is what Jesus tells us to do. Matthew 5:43 -44 quotes Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” We are not only to love others but we are to show our love to them. Valentine’s Day is a good opportunity for us to extend love to not only those whom we love, but also to those we do not love so much.
Several scriptures in the book of I John give us reasons to extend love to those who may not be so loving towards us. I John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” God did not wait until we loved Him before He loved us. Love is described in I John 4:10, “And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” We are all familiar with John 3:16 that says, “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.” We were sinners – we hurt God – we disobeyed God, and yet He sent us the greatest Valentine possible in the form of His Son, Jesus, to die for us. If we send a prayer of love for an “unfriend,” we are only following the example of God. I John 4:20 states, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
When questioned about what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied in Matthew 22:37-40 saying, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Both commandments are based on love. First, we are to love God, and then we are to love others. “The others” are not just those who love us, but everyone. In John 13:34 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus showed us how to love. Now it is our turn to love according to His example. His love did not exclude anyone whom we might consider hard to love.
In John 21:16, Jesus questions Simon Peter about his love for both God and others, “Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’” My Reader, please read the first part of this verse and replace Simon’s name with your name. Hear Jesus asking you if you love Him. How will you respond? Will you tell Jesus that you love Him? If so, listen to hear if Jesus is telling you to feed His sheep by sending a Valentine Prayer for someone who is hard for you to love.
Meanwhile, be sure to receive God’s Valentine to you because I John 4:8 assures you that “God is love.”