It is important to remember the people we love this week. It is also important to buy those Valentine’s cards some time before Sunday morning. If the envelope seal is still dampish and your spouse finds a Snoopy card enclosed (because that is all that was left on the rack), the celebration will not be quite as festive as it could otherwise have been. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. . . that you forgot it was Valentine’s Day. This ends the public service portion of this blog post.
The word “love” is found in Scripture more than 550 times. When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, he responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Love is crucial to our lives and crucial to our relationships with God and others. When we are filled with God’s love, we can overflow with God’s love. When people see God’s love in us, they see God. Why is that true? It’s true because, “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Abraham Maslow published a paper in 1943 called A Theory of Human Motivation. According to his research, a human being’s greatest needs are physiological. When those basic needs have been met, their next greatest need is for love and belonging. Other psychologists have concluded similar findings as well. It is interesting to me that these extensive research projects have concluded what the book of Genesis has always made clear. God created human beings to want a relationship with him.
The Garden of Eden is the picture of the relationship that God planned to have with us. The Garden was a place of provision and safety. Adam and Eve didn’t need to worry about what they would eat; it had been provided for them. They did, however, need to be careful about what they were not supposed to eat. Adam and Eve had no concerns if they listened to God voice and ignored Satan’s. God provided everything Adam and Eve would need and made certain to warn them about harmful things. He loved them and wanted their lives to be perfect, safe, and filled with his love. That is how God showed his love to Adam and Eve.
How did Adam and Eve show their love to God, and to one another? Are we more like Adam and Eve or God? We can be more like God if we will learn from Adam and Eve’s mistakes. God is love. His character, his actions, his plan has always been about his love for mankind. Even the acts of judgment were acts of love. God will always do what is best for his creation. God can never be motivated by anything but perfect love because God is love.
I can know those words are true even when those words don’t feel true. When my son told me he had cancer, I didn’t feel God’s love at that moment. When God’s people have been cruel, it didn’t feel like God’s love was powerful or controlling. When circumstances were difficult, I didn’t feel like God cared as much as I wanted him to care. I haven’t always felt God’s love in the hard places, but I’ve always believed God was love. God made me for the Garden of Eden and I won’t fully understand or experience God’s love until I’m on the other side of this life, living in his Paradise.
Until then, understanding God’s love might be a challenge, but accepting God’s love will be our joy. Our job is to help other people know God and receive the life that he would choose to provide for them. God created people with a great need for love, because he created them with a great need for his love. God created us with the ability to choose, so that we could choose his love and choose to love others. God wants his children to be like him.
As you shop for your Valentines, think about the person you know that might not receive a card this year. Think about buying an extra Valentine, or making an extra visit, or giving an extra hug. The best way to be like God, is to show his love to someone else.
Join us at www.christianparenting.org and chime in on this week’s discussion question: If you observe Lent, how do you help your children understand and participate?