This coming Sunday is Valentine’s Day, and all the advertisers and promoters of products and flowers and cards have made sure that love is on everybody’s mind. Love is in the air, like on every radio commercial and every television commercial; pop-up stuff when you’re trying to find something on the computer; signs plastered on businesses; and jingles just trying to get you lined up for a romantic meal. Love is everywhere. As I thought about Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday, I began to reach into my own memory bank of Scripture and try to pull up verses that had to do with love. I’m not going to list all of those for you here, but it might be a healthy exercise for you to simply jot down the verses that come to your mind that God has expressed love to us. Probably the best known verse in all the Bible is a love verse: John 3:16. In 1 John 4, you find that simple phrase that engulfs all of us. It says, “God is love.” The Apostle Paul in writing to the church at Rome came to the eighth chapter and asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul then names everything that you can imagine in this world or the world to come that could separate us, and he says nothing will break that love.

However, love flowing from God and love that is to be expressed among us from God is probably a far, far different thing than the world portrays as love. What is love? How do you know when you’re in love? How do you know when you fall out of love, and on and on and on? The other day I ran across a love quiz. Among other questions was: How can you tell when a man is in love? A. The smile on his face. B. He wears cleaner clothes. C. The skip in his walk. D. No way to tell. The second question was: How can you tell when a man is not in love? A. The smile on his face. B. He wears cleaner clothes. C. The skip in his walk. D. All of the above.

If for nothing else and for no other reason, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity not just to buy candy and flowers but to think about the meaning and significance, the richness and the wonder of the relationships around us. The husband and wife relationship of love; the love that exists between children and parents, siblings, and friends; long, meaningful relationships; and new, fresh relationships all have a place and all can be meaningful. I certainly do not have all the insights and am unable to have all of the applications that can be made of love in other people’s lives, but just for a simple exercise as you think about Valentine’s Day and your relationships let me give you some thoughts on love that may be helpful as you express and/or receive love.

First of all, love should be tangible. The word, “love,” itself is an interesting thing in that it is invisible, unseeable. You can’t go to the store and buy a bottle of it. You can’t order it from Amazon but it can be tangible, visible, audible. Love is actually something that you are more than something that you do, but out of the source of what you are, you can express love to others. In the marriage relationship if you are a loving husband or wife, there are things that will grow out of that, things you will do. What you will do is not just buy some flowers once a year or provide a gift occasionally, but if it is what you are, good things will no doubt be seen and experienced.

If love is genuine and flows from your heart, the very essence of who you are will be seen in what you do. The doing might be an act of care that helps with things around the house or to do something that you know your mate will appreciate but they do not ask of you. Small things can be so meaningful when it comes from who you are. It could be something as mundane as helping wash the dishes or filling up the car with gas or making sure the garbage is taken out, or it may be something as small as a meaningful, appropriate smile or a touch or a sincere thank you, but it flows out of who you are. If it is not who you are, the doing will be empty. Love can become tangible and that is a good thing.

A second thought is that love needs to be flexible. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us how love expresses itself in verses four and five where he writes, “Love is patient and kind. It does not envy. It does not boast.  It is not proud.” In verse five he tells us it is not rude or self-seeking. Love is flexible in that it is not always seeking its way but cares about others getting their way. When children are taught to live in relationship with the family that way, it makes for a different kind of home life. When mamas and daddies love each other that way, it makes for a different model, example, and atmosphere in the home life. When love does not have flexibility to let others have their way and allow others’ opinions and others’ feelings to have a place, it creates a damaging and disastrous home atmosphere or business atmosphere or church atmosphere and that is not good. Love is flexible.

One final thing I would pass along to you about love is that it is inexhaustible. Love, genuine love, has no age boundaries. Young people who have not even learned to walk and talk can light up a room and a heart with their love. Couples who have celebrated sixty years of married life and walked the journey for thousands of days together can still know the joy and the warmth of love. It is inexhaustible because the more you give it, the more it grows. Love keeps enlarging. The more of it you share, the more of it you have. It is a strange commodity. You can run out of virtually everything else because you expend it and overextend it. Your money can be gone. Your energy depleted. Your things can be destroyed or simply fall apart, but when love is expressed day after day, it is nurtured and cared for and given away. There is an inexhaustible supply that God can provide for you that will touch others.

The Bible is a book of love – God’s love for us and how He not only expects us to love but commands that we love one another. Let God’s Word flow into your heart. Open the floodgates of care for others and expressions to those around you, and let the love flow. At the end of Valentine’s Day, you will have more of it than you had when you started.

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Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer