The Glue of Love

Tomorrow will be Valentine’s Day. As a child, I remember making valentines. I cut out hearts of red construction paper – probably some pink and white ones too. Mom gave me a few lace doilies I added to make my valentines fancy. Then I used lots of glue! Glue held my homemade creations together.

I think God uses a different kind of glue to hold everything together. His glue is called love. Today, we will explore scripture to learn about God’s glue.

First, let’s consider God being the glue.

I John 4:16 says, “God is love.” If we describe glue as love, then God is a kind of glue because He is love. In Hebrews 13:5, God says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” We are attached to God by His love. I applied glue to the pieces of my valentines to hold several hearts together. God promises to stick to us like glue. He is a glue stick!

We learn in Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Healing broken hearts sounds like a function of God’s glue. I am sure some of the paper hearts I cut out were broken because I was not careful enough with the scissors. I glued them back together so I could make more valentines.

Next, let’s think about love as glue.

I John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.When I made valentines as a little girl, I did not know how to spell many words. It was easier for me to just glue hearts together as a symbol of love. I chose to express my affection by making valentines with my hands rather than by writing poetic words.

According to Paul, God’s glue is patient and never fails. I Corinthians 13:4 tells us, Love is patient.” When making valentines, I had to be patient and allow the glue dry. Otherwise, the glue would not have done its job. A few verses later, I Corinthians13:8 says, “Love never fails.” When my glue dried, it did not fail to hold the embellishments I attached to my valentines.

We read in I Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.I used a lot of glue on my homemade valentines. Glue covered a multitude of paper hearts. Only then was I sure they would stick together. The glue probably also covered a multitude of my creations’ imperfections just as God’s glue covers our many sins.

Now, let’s consider how we can apply God’s glue.

When asked what was the greatest commandment, Jesus answered in Mark 12:29-31, The most important one is this, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’” In a recent sermon, our pastor pointed out that our loving God requires loving our neighbor. In other words, loving God and loving people stick together. Love is a powerful glue.

God’s love-glue is made of two components – loving God and loving others. Things don’t stick right in a person’s life if both expressions of love are not evident. When I made childlike valentines, I put glue between two different hearts to make one card. When we put loving God and loving people together, we apply the most powerful glue to our lives.   

Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend loves at all times.” We are to let those around us know how much we care about them whether it be Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year. We should stay attached to our friends through all circumstances. We should stick together like glue.

Finally, let’s glue everything together.

Colossians 3:14 instructs us, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Whether we are thinking about godly virtues or valentines, love is the theme. Glue holds things together just as love holds things together.

I Corinthians 16:14 is a good reminder for all of us. Do everything in love.” Whether it be making valentines or going about daily activities, love should be part of the process.

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A Valentine for 365 Days

Universally, the heart is a symbol of love. However, on February 14, the heart is commercialized in more ways than one can imagine. Greeting cards are created in the shape of hearts decorated with lace and flowers. Heart-shaped boxes enfold decadent chocolates. Bouquets of red roses with a plastic heart stuck in the middle are advertised. Even fluffy stuffed animals portraying love are for sale. Whatever the expression of love, there is always a heart included with the sentiment “Be My Valentine.”

Why magnify love only one day of the year? True love lasts longer than one day. Love is more than a few romantic words composed by Hallmark. Love is more valuable than commercial stuff. God’s love is lavished upon us 365 days of the year. (see I John 3:1) God is love according to I John 4:8.

Let’s make a few comparisons between what God says about love and what the marketing industry sells.

The Greek language has several unique words for love. Agape is God’s love – selfless love. Eros is passionate or romantic love. Valentine’s Day focuses on Eros.

Here are images of angels. Cupid is the valentine angel. In classical mythology, Cupid is the god of erotic love. A cupid is described as a winged being symbolic of love.

In comparison, we see an image of Michael, God’s archangel. Micheal is a warring angel who fights for us. (see Revelation 12:7-9) In Revelation 5:11, John heard the voice of “thousands upon thousands and tens thousand times ten thousand” angels. Too many angels to count! Psalm 91:11 a  loving verse telling each of us about our personal guardian angel. Weapons are evident in these images. In the valentine image, Cupid is shooting an arrow with his bow. On many valentines, there is an arrow of love aimed for the beloved’s heart. Is this truly romantic?

The other image is symbolic of the sword of the Spirit – part of God’s armor. (see Ephesians 6:18) The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Offensively, God’s Word can penetrate the unbeliever’s heart allowing him/her to experience the love of God. Much more powerful than an arrow!Is love costly? Looking on the back of a valentine card, one discovers how expensive a particular piece of folded paper can be. Is Eros love worth this amount of money?

Agape love cost Jesus His life. That’s costly! Romans 5:8 NLT says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” And I Corinthians 6:20 says, “God bought you with a high price.”Pictured above is an old-fashioned valentine. On a flimsy piece of paper, a cute little angel says, “It would be heavenly to have you for my Valentine.” Although this might be a sweet sentiment, there is no sincere commitment.

In contrast, God reveals His love for us throughout the Bible. In Revelation 21 and 22, the angel of the Lord shows John the new heaven and the new earth that will last throughout eternity. The Lord’s love endures forever.  (see  I Chronicles 16:34)

So, forget the commercial hype of Valentine’s Day. Concentrate on God’s  love. Listed below are  scriptural love notes from God. (Emphasis is by the writer.)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

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.

John 3:16

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God.
I John 4:7

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
I John 4:8

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But
the greatest of these is love.
I Corinthians 13:13

and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us
and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.)

 

 

 

 

 

A Love Question

3 heartsI am thinking about “love” today and I realize it is a word that can have various meanings.  Love can be expressed with different levels of emotions.  I articulate different feelings when I say “I love you” to different people in different situations.  “I love you” is a term of endearment that I profess to my husband with a romantic meaning I share with no one else.  “I love you” are words with a unique connotation I say to my children and grandchildren reserved for them alone. I may even say that I love chocolate but that has an entirely different sentiment!  “I love you” is a phrase that can be voiced either flippantly or sincerely. When I think about an example of “I love you” in the Bible, I am reminded of the conversation between Jesus and Peter after they had breakfast on the shore one morning shortly after Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus and Peter verbalized two different kinds of love.

 3 heartsIn just two days it will be Valentine’s Day.  My Reader, do you love the day or would you prefer there not be a day set aside to celebrate love? Are you secure enough in the love of those around you that you look forward to expressing your love to them and to have them verify their love for you?  Do you need to ask a particular person in your life whether or not they love you?  How do you think Peter felt when Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him?

 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
 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.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”
He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
John 21:15-17

3 hearts I have heard it said that Jesus did not have to ask Peter three times if he loved Him because Peter was hard of hearing but rather Jesus asked because He had something special to relay to Peter that He wanted him to remember.  I like the humor in that statement along with the truth it reveals.  Love is the topic of conversation between Jesus and Peter, but they are not talking about the same thing. Peter affirms his love for Jesus but the type of love he expresses is different from what Jesus asks the first two times this question is presented to Peter.  Jesus uses the Greek word “agape” indicating an unconditional type of love that is not only affectionate but also a supreme and perfect love.  Peter responds with the Greek word “phileo” signifying that he loves Jesus as a friend and has high regard for him.  The third time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, He uses the term “phileo” that Peter used in both of his previous responses. In the English language I read one word but there are two entirely different meanings to what Jesus and Peter are talking about.

 3 heartsAnother thing I notice when reading the love conversation between Jesus and Peter is that it does not conclude with just the issue of whether or not love exists between the two of them. Even though Peter does not answer the question with the depth of commitment indicated by Jesus, he still responds positively.   Jesus accepts Peter’s answer and then challenges him to a future ministry among the sheep of God’s fold. Although Jesus would have preferred to share a deeper love relationship with Peter, He acknowledges Peter’s honesty and the third time Jesus acquiesces to Peter’s level of commitment.  I wonder if there is the possibility that phileo love can be transformed into agape love over time.  I wonder if Jesus’ intention was to encourage Peter to a deeper love that he might need in the future. For myself, I guess I need to be sensitive to what Jesus may be asking me today.  Is He asking me if I love Him?  What form of the word love is He using when he inquires about my love for Him?  Is there a specific reason He wants to know about my commitment to Him? There is a lot to think about regarding this little four letter word “love”!

3 hearts There is something else I notice in this question and answer exchange between Peter and Jesus.  In John 21:15, Jesus not only asks Peter if he loves Him but He asks him, “Do you love Me more than these?” Commentators have different interpretations of what the pronoun “these” refers to.  I guess I always thought “these” referred to the other disciples, but another interpretation has caught my attention.  “These” may refer to the fish Jesus and Peter have just shared for breakfast.  Looking back at the beginning of John 21, I remember the setting in which this conversation takes place.  The night before was when Peter and several other disciples had gone fishing and had caught nothing until the morning when Jesus appeared on the shore and told them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.  Jesus prepared a breakfast of broiled fish and bread for them and it was after they had eaten that Jesus questioned Peter. Peter had gone back to his former occupation of fishing and I wonder if Jesus was asking Peter if he intended to revert to his old lifestyle of fishing rather than being willing to fulfill the ministry he had learned during the last three years in the presence of Jesus.  It makes sense that Jesus was questioning whether Peter’s first priority and love was to catch fish or to feed Jesus’ lambs. This makes me ask myself, “What is ‘these’ in my life?”  Is there something or someone I love and give priority to over my relationship with Jesus.

3 hearts Although it is not used in the conversation between Peter and Jesus, there is third Greek word for love known as “eros” denoting an intimate and romantic love.  It is the word from which the English word erotic is derived.  Eros was the ancient Greek god of love, identified by the Romans with Cupid.  This is the type of love that is commercialized on Valentine’s Day.  Although there is a beautiful aspect of this type of love, it is also the type of love that can be degraded. Personally, I do not want to confuse agape, phileo, and eros love.

 3 heartsMy Reader, what kind of love valentine are you going to receive and/or give this Valentine’s Day?  Love those God has placed in your life, but never forsake your first love for the Lord.  Do you hear Jesus saying to you (replace Simon Peter’s name with yours), “–————, Do you love Me?”  How will you respond?  If you say, “Lord, you know I love you,” what form of love will you be using?  Please do not be like Peter and settle only for phileo love when agape love is available.  If Jesus is asking you “Do you love me more than these?” to whom or what does the pronoun “these” refer in your life?  Are you willing to adjust your priorities?

 Let love surround you on Valentine’s Day and every day!

 Joyfully,
Cheryl

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