The early part of February was always greeted with much anticipation at the girl’s boarding school I attended during my high school years in Nigeria. This was a time to weed out the chaff from the wheat where relationships were concerned. The bigger the valentine cards, grams and teddy bears, the more genuine the affection was deemed. Those who received smaller packages, or nothing at all, looked on enviously, hoping to one day be counted among the lucky few.
Today I chuckle at how our teenage minds measured true love by the size of the gesture. Looking back on those days, I heartily agree with Paul, who said in 1 Corinthians 13: 11, “when I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child.” No doubt our grown-up minds know better. Still, we may often find ourselves asking, ‘what is love?’
When pondering the meaning of love, most of us turn to 1 Corinthians 13, and in doing so, we tend to focus on love being patient and kind. It’s only too easy to skim over the other love attributes outlined in the chapter – i.e. love not demanding its own way and keeping no record of wrongs. And we certainly may not register that love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance (1 Corinthians 13: 5-7).
God may have made a grand gesture with Jesus coming to earth in order to seek and save the lost, but that was not the measure of His love for us. Jesus going on to die for the very people who had (and would) reject Him is the personification of love never giving up, never losing faith, always being hopeful and enduring through every circumstance. Love at its core involves sacrifice and putting others first.
Whether you feel alone or adored this valentine season, remember that we always have true love in the One who gave Himself for us.
Read John 3:16-17 and meditate on God’s act of love towards mankind.
How do you define love? In what ways does your understanding of true love need to be adjusted to align with the Bible’s portrayal?