I was curious about the amount of money Americans spend on Valentine’s Day. It’s surprising!
According to WalletHub, Americans will spend almost $24 billion this year. How much is one billion? I like this measurement: The average human heart will have clocked one billion beats by the time we are 27.4 years old.
St. Valentine would never have imagined the holiday that bears his name! What is it about Valentine’s Day that prompts this kind of spending? (Especially since most Americans don’t pay off their Christmas debt until April or June.)
Why do we think spending money says “I love you”? St. Valentine would have preached against that notion. In full confession, I spend some money on the holiday. I’ve been married to my valentine for 42.5 years and, let’s face it, I’m a grandma who likes to see those grins! It’s good to remember the people we love for Valentine’s Day. But, extravagant gifts don’t say “I love you.” Thoughtful effort does.
What says “I love you”?
Everyone is different, especially these days. The advent of social media has impacted so many things, and not always for the best. I don’t post a lot of things, and rarely do I post personal things.
I don’t want to use a social media platform to make me feel better about myself if it might cause someone to feel worse. I don’t want to look at social media and close the lid of my computer thinking someone has it better than I do. Mostly, I don’t want to question whether someone did something, or gave something, just for the sake of a social media post. Sometimes a person should feel loved by a Facebook post, but often people could probably feel a bit exploited.
What truly says “I love you” in a way that builds a person up and causes them to know they are deeply cared for?
When it comes to gifts or social media posts, the answer is individual.
When it comes to the Lord, his word of love is pure, genuine, and a gift for everyone.
We should give what we have received
One of the most important spiritual lessons I learned was that I cannot give away what I have never received. The best way to be a person who is loving is to become a person who is loved.
First John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” I used to read that verse as a directive. In my mind, it meant, “We have to love others because God gave his love to us, and we owe him.”
But that isn’t the way God works.
He didn’t love us so that we would be obligated to love others. God loves us so that we are able to love others. We can love others because God has given us his love to share with others.
Are you running on fumes?
We often speak about being filled with the Spirit in order to serve God well. However, we also need to be filled with the Spirit in order to love others well. In fact, loving others is our most important service to God and others.
Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . . .” When Paul was listing the fruit that God’s Holy Spirit produces in our lives, he listed love first. When he spoke of the gifts of the Spirit in his letter to the Corinthians, he said, “The greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
When we feel like it is difficult to love other people, is it because we have not taken the time to be filled with God’s love to give? Are we running on fumes instead of a full tank?
A Valentine’s message for you
We know we are loved by God, but has it been a while since you received God’s love into your life? Valentine’s Day is coming, and this may be the most important “word of love” you receive this year.
The best way to be filled with the love of God is to draw near to him.
The Apostle John wrote to the church he loved saying, “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).
Have you ever received a hug from someone wearing expensive perfume or aftershave? Quite often we pick up the fragrance on whatever we are wearing. Consider Jesus, anointed by Mary with that expensive vial of costly perfume. Anyone Jesus hugged would have carried the fragrance of his anointing to others. That is still true today.
When last did you feel enveloped by the love of Christ?
When last did you study Scripture for the purpose of receiving his love?
When last did you pray, asking for God to fill you with his love so that you can share his love with others?
Sometimes I imagine what it will be like to enter heaven, knowing I am eternally home. One of my favorite thoughts to consider is stepping into the open arms of Jesus as he wraps me in a loving hug. And I like to think that the fragrance of his love will always linger, for every moment of my forever.
A message from St. Valentine
There is a lot of mystery surrounding who the original St. Valentine really was. I wish I had a famous quote from him, but there are none I could confirm. Maybe that is for the best because there are as many ways to say “I love you” as there are people in this world.
Maybe the best message we received from St. Valentine is simply to remember the importance of love. The only perfect love is God’s. Our country will spend a lot of money this week trying to say “I love you.” Good luck finding the perfect gift or card!
But, as Christians, let’s share our valentines with the love of God. If you give or get a gift that disappoints, remember what Peter said: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). We can’t get the gift right every year but we can give it with genuine love.
Christians are loved with a perfect love! That is our most important gift on Valentine’s Day and every day.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!