“We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19, ESV)
In many countries around the world, today is a day to celebrate love. Valentine customs may vary, but love is the key ingredient. We may think of roses, chocolate, and romantic dinners, but love can also be shown by a child’s drawing, a construction paper cutout of a heart, or a big hug. Expressions of love come in many forms.
One of my most memorable Valentines (but not for the reason you might think) came from Gary, a fourth-grade classmate. At that time, it was traditional to bring a Valentine for each classmate and slip it into a large red construction paper envelope we created just for the occasion.
As we all opened our cards that afternoon in class, I was horrified to discover not the kids’ type Valentine from a large package of cards, but a “real” Valentine purchased individually. It was the biggest card in my envelope. Gary was not a cool kid, and I hoped no one would notice this special Valentine among my collection of cards. I quickly shoved it to the bottom of the stack, trying to hide it. The fact that I was a shy, awkward, uncool kid myself never entered my mind. I spurned Gary’s offering by ignoring it—and him.
Love! Just the word can give us goosebumps. Some have saved cherished love letters and cards, reading them over and over until they become fragile. Yet, the greatest love note ever sent was not a lace-and-flower-covered Valentine with a sentimental verse inside. It did contain the greatest message of love ever written and is found in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” The love note also promised a special gift to all who believed and accepted this message of love: the gift of eternal life.
God’s love far surpasses ours. It is pure, sacrificial, and given without reservation. We do not earn it; it just is. Romans 5:8 says that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He does not offer it to us and then grab it back if we displease him. Jeremiah 31:3 assures us, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” God’s love ours for keeps.
As an adult looking back on my nine-year-old self, I am ashamed. Gary extended a great compliment to me with his special Valentine, and I rejected it. He did not fit my childish image of someone worthy to be my special friend. I rebuffed him by ignoring his card.
Are there times that we treat God in much the same manner? Do we spurn His offer of unwavering love? Are other things more important to us than a relationship with Him? Do we think that others will ridicule us if we show our devotion to Him? Does God fit our image of someone worthy of our love?
God’s love is unsurpassed. Ephesians 2:4 speaks of “his great love wherewith he loved us.” Just think! The God of all creation treasures us. We are deeply loved.