Live Or Love Or Both? … Hello Hump Day readers. Valentine’s Day is a few days away and I’ve thought about a few perspectives on love. First of all, we have Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day on the same day. At first I thought “counter-point” but not at all. As we venture into the season of Lent, one thing stands out: the unending love of Jesus! How He could still be loving under such pressure—knowing He would soon die a horrible death on the cross? Yet, through all of it, His love was always there for all people—even those who nailed Him to that cross!

Remember what we call Maundy Thursday—the night He washed the disciples’ feet knowing that Judas and Peter would betray Him—what did He do? He loved them right to the core. He even told them in John 13:34 [ESV]: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” What kind of love that was and still is for all of us!

Today I was deleting the spam in my email box, and one caught my eye. It was from eHarmony and they said “Let us show you what real love looks like for your Valentines Day!” Really? I laughed, but then I thought, “how many people are looking for a lasting love; what does Valentines Day mean for them?” For many it is chocolates, cards, emotions, love songs, perhaps a delicious dinner with your loved ones, a Hallmark movie—hey, this country has Valentines Day down to the last penny in your pocket! But is that “real love?”

Think about this: Jesus didn’t just teach about love; His entire life defined it! He was always encouraging people, healing them and building them up and even raising the dead. And most importantly, giving up His life on our behalf. The Apostle Paul knew the love of Jesus and he reminds us of what a living love should be: “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing… Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”  [1 Cor.13:1-6, 13]

I love that passage but my mind wasn’t done thinking about ‘love’. Why? I thought, “if you’ve never received love how can you love others? In other words, we can’t give what we’ve never received. But oh how we try! Our typical strategy? Try harder, say “I don’t care how much it hurts; I’m going to be nice to that bum.” So we try. Teeth clenched, jaw firm—doesn’t feel much like love does it?

Could it be we’re missing a step about what love is and does? Could it be that the first step of love is not toward them but toward Jesus? In 1 John 4:19, John has the answer that we all need: “We love, because he first loved us.”

Do you long to be more loving? Stop and consider how you’ve been forgiven. Paul said in Ephesians 4:32 (NIV): Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Love…we want it—we want to give it. In fact, our hearts long for it because we are the sons and daughters of God who has put His love in our hearts. I don’t know what your longing will be for this Valentines Day. Some say “love waffles in the wind.” So, here’s a reminder from St. Valentine, which this day is named for. His longing in life was for people to deeply love one another. His principle on Love stands firm even today: “How can we embrace such a Love? Only by living love. By following the principle: receive first, love second.”
With Love to you all, AMEN.