Valentine’s day is tomorrow and in our modern culture we focus on romantic love. To me though, it is a day to remind people they are loved, not just in a romantic sense but in an all-encompassing way. Of course, I can’t think of this without thinking of the last command of our Savior to love one another as He had loved us. This inspires so many thoughts so I want to share a couple for you now….
In Jesus example love is not necessarily an emotion, though it can evoke emotion, but more importantly it is a choice we make. In the garden of Gethsemane, as Jesus kneeled and prayed, he was sweating blood (Luke 22: 43-44). That is a real and rare medical phenomenon called hematidrosis. It is brought about by extreme mental or physical stress/anxiety that causes the capillaries to burst. (Talk about a love that evokes an emotion!) He prays that if it is possible let the cup pass, but he submits as well and makes the choice to, not only love us, but love the Father and His will. (Matt 26: 36-56) He does this three times. So, he makes the choice and keeps making the choice. It is a beautiful example how we must make the choice and keep making the choice for love. Love of the father, love of our family, of our husbands and wives, of our neighbor…It isn’t just a one-time thing, but a time after time commitment. We can also notice in this example that the emotion of love isn’t always butterflies and marshmallows but gritted teeth and blood sweat. Love makes the choice when it isn’t easy to do.
Love is also sacrifice. Actually, all love is sacrifice. We may not be called to die for love, like our Messiah was, but we are all called to sacrifice for love, because all real love is sacrifice. Sacrifice is the act of giving up or surrendering something for the sake of something else, which all real love does. Love isn’t getting our own way all the time, it is giving patiently, gently, kindly, and without keeping score. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) We are called to this divine measure as Jesus commanded us, not just for those who are easily loveable but to all those around us whether they are worthy or not. If we are living by His example, in fact, especially those who aren’t worthy because let’s face it….who among us was worthy of even one drop of his spilled blood? I find myself in tears when I read the account of His crucifixion begging Him that I am not worthy of what He is doing. Yet, He sacrificed Himself not because we were worthy, but because He knew what His love could make us.
That brings me to my last point. Just like the example of Jesus’ love, when we love each other as He did, we are bringing out the best in ourselves and each other. We can see this in the stories of our Saints, like Valentine, who were obedient to God in “Loving one another as He loved us.” even unto death. We can also see it in our Church family in those who make the choice every day to submit their will, sacrifice what they have, and love us as He loved us. This is our choice, one we need to make every day.
Just some food for thought and prayer, in love.
Here I am, Lord, send me…