I shared this message on Valentine’s Day at New Vision Church, where I serve as the missions and creative arts pastor. Please feel free to leave comments and feedback.
It’s almost Valentine’s Day: the day we celebrate love. So what do you do if you don’t have someone special in your life? Let me help you out with the Top 10 pick-up lines for this year. Maybe it will help you move toward that special someone?
10) If you were a burger at McDonald’s, you’d be named “McGorgeous”.
9) If I could rearrange the alphabet I’’d put U and I together…
8) You must be a parking ticket cause you got “fine” written all over you.
7) If you were a laser you’’d be set on stunning.
6) Where have I seen you before? Oh yeah it was in the dictionary next to the word KABLAM!
5) Girl, if you catch me breaking into your house, it’s revenge for stealing my heart.
4) I hope you know CPR, because you take my breath away
3) Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?
2) Well, here I am. What were your other two wishes?
1) Do I know you cause you look a lot like my next girlfriend!
For a few more laughs, check out the Skit Guys video here on how some people define love: Need Harmony
But in all seriousness what is it about this crazy little thing called “love”? What is it about love that totally changes our lives?Maybe there’s something that’s not so little in this thing called love? Let’s take a few moments and consider what love is and what loves does.
When we talk about love it can be more than a little confusing. I mean, how do we use a word that means deep feelings of affection for a person in the same breath with how we feel about Taco Bell? Interesting to say the least. Needless to say, the word “love” has many connotations and definitions. A general definition many people live by is: love is what someone does to us or for us. This however, is not a great definition to live by. Consider:
Love is what someone does to us.
We get butterflies in our stomachs. Our palms get sweaty. We become giddy and lost on cloud “9”. We have pep in our step and the world just seems to be brighter when we are “in love”.
Love is what someone does for us.
All-of-a-sudden, someone is opening up doors for us, buying us gifts, sending texts all the time, posting pics of us together, and celebrating holidays and seasons together. They get us things and do things for us that no one else does. That has to be love, right?
This definition of love is probably a much better working definition than the ones above.
Love: a commitment to the betterment of another involving service and sacrifice. This definition is much more “scary” than the others. In the other two definitions, we are at the center of the universe. Love becomes about what’s in it for “us”. But in this definition, love becomes about “the other”. Sure “love” can involve feelings but love is not just feelings.
There are three basic statements that we hear centered around love. Maybe you have heard them before?
1) I love you…if.
This statement is conditional to the max. You have heard it like this: “If you love me you would…”
2) I love you…but.
This statement is a comparison statement. You have heard it like this: “I love you but you don’t treat me like so and so…”
3) I love you no matter what.
This statement is unconditional. Even as loving and caring as our parents are, sometimes, they become conditional in their expression of love. But parents and loving role models are often our best examples of this kind of love, which is only possible through God. God is the prime example of this kind of love. He always has this kind of love for us and toward us. Regardless of what our lives are like, what our past has been, what we look like, what we feel like, what we think, God loves us perfectly, 100%, all the time.
God conveys this kind of love to us over and over in the scriptures. He says quite succinctly in Romans 5:8 that He demonstrated His love even WHILE we were still sinners. Even at our very worst, our furtherest from God, He still reached out to us and showed great love for us by serving and sacrificing. That’s real love!
Love is Service.
When Jesus came to earth, He could have required people to bow to Him, to do His bidding, to honor Him and worship Him as the God He was and is. But He didn’t do that. Instead, Jesus said in Matthew 20:28
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus lived out service to others unlike anyone ever has. He being the God of all creation, bent down and washed the feet of those whom He created. The gospel of John details this great act of love beautifully.
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him John 13:1-5
Later in the passage, Jesus commands His disciples to do the same kind of loving thing to others.
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.
Throughout His life, Jesus showed us time and again how love is not about feelings but about serving and giving. He showed this kind of love over and again through things like feeding the 4,000, 5,000, healing people, raising the dead, and even making sure His mother was cared for at the time of his own death! Jesus wants us to understand that love is service and giving of ourselves to others in service.
Love is Sacrifice.
When people really love one another sacrifices are made. Wives give up their last names, people move from their parents homes to new locations, cities, or states, as sacrifices of their love. These sacrifices expected and even nobel, but the ultimate sacrifice is the giving of one’s life. Fully yielding a life to death for the love of another is the greatest expression of love ever. Jesus Himself declares this in the following verse:
It’s one thing to give your life for someone that you love but what about an enemy? That’s not love, right? That’s insanity! But not according to God. Through the loving sacrificial death of Jesus, while we were enemies of God, He provided a way for friendship.
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. Romans 5:10
Jesus showed sacrificial love by laying down His own life. What makes this sacrifice so incredible is that in doing so, Jesus experienced something He never had before: separation from His Father. That was the ultimate sacrifice! In all of eternity, the Trinity had never experienced such a separation, but on the cross of Calvary, Jesus became sin for us and God turned His back on His one and only son!
45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:45
God and Jesus Christ have demonstrated love in ways that go beyond our comprehension and experiences. The love God has for us exceeds any of our ability to explain or convey. Yet, it is more real than any other love we have as a reference. During this Valentine’s Day, may I encourage you to take a few minutes and simply reflect upon the love of God, His acts of service and sacrifice and let that be your beginning point for the love that you express toward others.
How can you demonstrate love through service and sacrifice this Valentine’s Day?