While the day is past, the season remains. This is the season for Valentine’s Day. You know, hearts, and chocolates, flowers and candlelight dinners, and … the works, right?
Right! For some, that may be what that evening brought. But for others it was just another day of business as usual.
Why is that? Some people are really good at showing sentimentality.
Others really have to work at it – a lot. And while we know the whole thing about what love is….check out 1 Corinthians 13 – the “Love Chapter” in the Bible… we also know that it comes really hard.
The community here in Florida where my bride and I reside is known as “Florida’s Friendliest Home Town”. Having lived here for the past couple of years, I can honestly say that is true.
There are over 100,000 people who live here (about 70,000 golf carts!), and that number swells to about 150,000 in the winter months. You would think that the place would be cold and harsh, but those instances are the exceptions rather than the rule.
When we first arrived here, we were told that if we ever got lost while out on our golf cart, we should just pull over, stop on the side of the trail, and look at a map. We were practically guaranteed that someone would stop and help us find our way. One evening we found ourselves in just that situation.
We decided to try the “system” to see if it worked. We pulled off the cart path and stopped, then pulled out a map of the area. Within two minutes, a lady walking down the path with a cane hobbled up beside our cart and asked if we needed help!
Within minutes, we were happily on our way. In the months and years that we have been here, it has been our privilege to pay that kind of love forward in the same way.
Some years ago, I came across one of those pieces written by my favorite theologian. Oh, you may know her as Erma Bombeck, but this common housewife from Dayton had a lot of deep wisdom that seemed to hit right between the eyes — of my life anyway.
She could nail the subject at hand from 50 paces without even squinting! And her advice is soooo very practical! One Valentine’s Day she wrote the following definition of LOVE, as seen through the eyes of a husband talking to his wife:
· Love is climbing out of a warm bed at night and checking to see if all the doors are locked when you think you hear something.
· Love is giving you the pizza with the two slices of pepperoni on it when I love pepperoni.
· Love is acting excited over a $72 needlepoint canvas you bought when we both know you haven’t finished the quilt, the pillow top, the kitchen curtains, and the latch-hook rug.
· Love is being mad at the kids at the same time that you’re mad at them.
· Love is moving the car seat up as far as it will go when I get out, so you don’t have to do it.
· Love is painting a room together and letting you have the roller once in a while while I do the windowpanes.
· Love is never remembering what birthday you’re celebrating.
· Love is learning how to make coffee and where the cups are.
· Love is pretending to be jealous of your old boyfriend who became a priest.
· Love is never going on a diet when you’re fat.
· Love is giving you the women’s section of the paper to read first when the sports section is in the same one.
· Love is refraining from telling you how the thermostat works.
Love is a lot of little things that add up to caring. It doesn’t always add up to three little words. Sometimes it adds up to six: I GOT YOUR TANK FILLED TODAY!
You know, folks, Erma was right. Love does add up to caring!
God cared enough for you and for me to send His Son Jesus (Check out John 3:16), and He cares enough to leave the Holy Spirit inside all who believe in Him, so we’ll have power and strength to live through today! And He wants us to care about Him enough to read His Word, talk to Him about others, then talk to others about Him.
And if that’s what love is from God’s perspective, He also wants us to care about others – in many of the same ways mentioned above, or at least similar ways! He wants husbands to care about their wives. He wants wives to care about their husbands. He wants Dads and Moms to care about your kids – both the boys AND the girls.
And He wants you kids to care about your parents – both the Dads AND the Moms! He wants brothers to care about sisters and sisters to care about brothers and sisters to care about sisters and brothers to care about brothers.
And God wants that care and love to extend beyond the family too – into the school classroom, the office at work, the grocery store lines, AND the traffic jam on the highway!
In short, the true spirit of Valentine’s Day is fulfilled when we learn the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 – “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again!”
In other words, the true spirit of love is expressed in OTHERS-CENTERED LIVING.
It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about chocolates and roses or golf carts and gas tanks. True love is thinking of others before thinking of yourself! And that is the essence of being just like Christ!
How does that describe your love life?
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.