“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”-
Today is the day we set aside to emphasize “love.” The holiday is named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine and dates back to AD 496. The holiday first became associated with romantic love in the 1300’s when the tradition of courtly love flourished. That’s how the word “courting” came into use. Not too many years ago the term was used to describe a couple who was “going out” or “dating.” You and your love interest were seen as “courting” one another.
That pudgy, winged baby in a diaper with a bow and arrow we know as Cupid has been linked to Valentine’s Day since the 19th century. He is actually a holdover from Roman mythology. Cupid (Latin cupido, meaning “desire”) was the god of erotic love and beauty. He was supposedly the son of the goddess Venus and god Mercury. Somewhere along the way somebody fashioned the idea that getting shot with his arrow resulted in falling in love.
Valentine’s Day is the second biggest day of the year for greeting cards only eclipsed by Christmas. By the way, men spend twice as much on Valentine gifts than women. What’s up with that? Speaking of spending money, we will purchase around 58 million pounds of chocolate during Valentine’s holiday to the tune of $345 million.
Certainly, this day has much to do with the expression of romantic love but it also serves as a reminder to us of the importance of love in our lives. Love is vital to our well-being and as research has proven, love contributes to our good health and ability to recover from physical and emotional maladies. It is sad to think that there are those among us who do not experience the healing power of love. That’s why it is so important that we as Christians do all we can to share the good news of Jesus Christ. God’s love is available to everyone through Jesus. We are the representatives of God’s love on this earth and it is our mission, not only to express that love, but also to demonstrate His love.
Jesus had much to say about love. He left no stone unturned in specifying who we are to love and how we are to love. Put simply, we are to love everyone, one another, and our enemies. Failure to love others is evidence of failure to love God. “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (John 4:20-21)
In today’s focus scripture we learn that Jesus places a high priority on the love that we are to have for one another. In fact He puts love in the form of a command. “A new command I give you: Love one another.” Love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is not a suggestion, recommendation, or something relegated to special occasions. Love is a command.
Notice that Jesus did not command us to “tolerate” one another, which is frequently the way we seek to handle our relationships. Surely you have heard it said that “love is a choice.” Even in marriage, when the warm fuzzies of romantic love fade away, there must be a decision, a choice, and a resolve to “love.” God knows there are those among us who are difficult to love which is why He puts it in the form of a command. He knows there are personality conflicts and differences of opinion that divide us. Jesus understands there are irritable, cantankerous, mean-spirited, hostile, and ill-willed people among us. Essentially Jesus is saying, “I know all that. Love them anyway!” To use the Nike slogan, “Just do it.”
He expands on His command by saying, “you must love one another.” There is no option, no middle ground, and no compromise. We must love one another regardless of what we are thinking or feeling. Get over it. Get beyond it. Suck it up and…love that hard to love person.
In each of these lessons on The Behavior of Love, I have encouraged you to join with me in creating statements that express love based on each scriptural instruction on love. So here is the final love principle from this series: Love is a requirement for every Christian.
Love is a requirement
- “I will love you when you are unloving.”
- “I’ll forgive you when you treat me badly.”
- “I will seek to rise above my personal feelings and our differences of opinion to keep on loving you.”
- “I’ll seek to never hold a grudge or animosity toward you.”
- “When everything in me wants to get back at you, I will seek the choice of loving you.”
- “I will love you because my Lord has commanded it.”
- “Let us love one another and thus show ourselves to be His disciples.”
For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Handle Relationships with Unbelievers
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.