This week millions of Americans will join with people of other countries to celebrate St. Valentines’ day, but what is the significance of this holiday for those who consider themselves Christians? The core question centers on the definition of love. The romantic view of love often consists of intimate moments such as a candlelight dinner for two, a romantic evening stroll under the stars, a walk along the beach or a cozy evening in front of a fireplace. But what is the biblical definition of love?
1 Corinthians 13 espouses a different kind of love. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away” (v 4-8).
This indeed is not a romantic view of love, though it is a challenging one for sure. Not too many Americans hold this view in high regard considering the divorce rate ranges from 34-50% depending upon how you view the statistics. Americans don’t want to suffer, and especially not for long. Yet Christians have for a long time held this verse as a standard, but not an easy one to uphold, as the divorce rate among Christians isn’t any better than for those who don’t consider themselves of the faith.
So what’s the problem with this love issue? Considering what the biblical standard for love requires, it’s no wonder we have difficulties. Suffering long, not envying, being humble, forgiving and bearing with one another are not easy; it goes against the grain of human nature. If this is what it takes to really love and stay married, it’s almost impossible. But Christians, have the love of God shed aboard in their hearts and the “spirit of the living God” (2 Corinthians 3:3) within them. They have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them in the ways of God’s agape, unconditional, love. Yet the fact still remains, Christians divorce rate is as high as non-Christians.
The trouble is Christians have bought into the self-centered, all about me philosophy that has gripped our nation. If believers would truly rely on the Spirit of God and understand the great sacrifice He made for them by dying on a cross, then nothing would be impossible. Christ would be the example. Yet leading a life like this takes true submission to God’s will and not our own. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Now there are grounds for biblical divorce and of course physical and extreme mental abuse is ungodly. But how many spouses truly follow the path of a first Corinthians type of love? It is a question every married couple needs to ask in an increasingly selfish society.
So this Valentine’s Day, don’t just give a card for your spouse or chocolate and flowers, but give them the gift of true love—forgiveness, kindness, gentleness, humility and longsuffering (selflessness)It is a gift that will never tarnish nor perish, for it is true eternal love.