There is absolutely no human being who has ever been born who is not driven by a longing for love. Needing to be loved is part of being human. The drive to receive love can lead individuals down a multitude of destructive paths. Sometimes it is the absence of love that causes a person to sabotage their well-being through addictions. The pain from not having the love your heart was created for is a powerful force beneath many of your decisions.
On this Valentine’s Day I thought it would be a good idea to consult the Love Expert. Just before His arrest, driven by His love for His disciples (John 13:1 )He gave them and us this instruction: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).
God loved the world, so He sent His son (John 3:16). Jesus loved the world, so He gave us not only a command to love, but He showed the full extent of love. Just hours after this dinner, Jesus would do exactly what He had instructed the disciples. He would demonstrate the love that drove God the Father to send His only Son to lay down His life. It is true that Jesus gave His life, but Jesus made it clear that the decision for Jesus to give His life was not Jesus’ idea. Jesus only laid down His life out of His love and trust in His Father and the love He expressed to His disciples.
Jesus did not give His life because He hated Himself. Jesus gave His life because He loved Himself as the object of God’s love. Love leads to brave expressions of love. The greatest love is demonstrated by laying down your own life for the one you love.
When have you laid down your life out of love for another human being? Perhaps the true Valentine’s Day would include stories of how someone loved you when it cost them something. Jesus gives us many opportunities to express this kind of love. It can be as simple as giving the bigger piece of cake to your spouse. The sweetest examples of this kind of love that stays in my memory is when my children have sacrificed something they wanted because they loved me so much. I remember my son saving his chocolate kisses received as a reward at school to give to me when I picked him up. There is no greater love than a mushy chocolate kiss, complete with pocket lint from the place that he saved it to give to me rather than eat it himself.
Valentine’s Day is sure to evoke tears. For some, it is the absence of a romantic relationship to express this love. Others feel deep disappointment that their romantic partner won’t think of them on this day (I’ve got to admit that is mainly women who will struggle with this.) Whether we feel loved and celebrated or not, the focus of Valentine’s Day should lead each of us to recognize that Valentine’s Day does not offer the love Jesus described.
The Expert about love todoes not focus on the one loved, rather the self-sacrifice of the lover. The only way one sacrifices their own needs in order to love another person is through receiving a love from the Father that steadies them even if expressing the love requires tears. Jesus’ act of love was excruciatingly painful to His body, mind, and soul. God’s sacrifice of His Son was equally as difficult.
Love is so much more than a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers or a sweet card. Expert love is knowing that you are more important to the one who loves you than their own life. Connect deeply to God’s love this week and I’m sure He will show you a way to demonstrate expert love.