Love is in the air! As the month of February approaches, everyone gets ready for Valentine’s Day. Some exchange cards, purchase overpriced flowers, and there is candy galore! As far back as I can remember, we exchanged valentines at school, and my parents got us a small gift and a card expressing sweet thoughts.
Some people call it a Hallmark-created holiday to elicit more spending on cards, flowers, and candy. Over the years, even single people have embraced the holiday, and now, ladies even do “Galentine’s Day” events! My oldest daughter switched schools this year, and Valentine’s Day is a big deal there! Parents are encouraged to order balloons and candy for their children and, as one friend put it, “The school looks like a scene from the movie ‘UP’ by the end of the day!” It got me thinking, shouldn’t our desire to show others small expressions of love be done often and not reserved for only one day a year?
I did some research, as I really didn’t know much about the history of Valentine’s Day, and I was quite surprised. Here are some fun “Did you know?” Valentine’s Day facts:
– Passing out Valentine’s Day cards is a 600-year-old tradition!
– On Valentine’s Day, 144 million greeting cards are exchanged in the US alone!
– Richard Cadbury introduced the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates in 1868—more than 150 years ago!
– Nine million people buy their pets a Valentine’s Day gift!
Those are some crazy facts!
Valentine’s Day isn’t a new idea. The Romans celebrated a festival called Lupercalia in mid-February, and it kicked off the countdown to spring. During this celebration, boys would draw girls’ names from a box, and they would date during this celebration and then sometimes marry after the celebration.
Many years later, the church wanted to use this time of the festival to turn it into a Christian holiday. They decided to use Saint Valentine to do it. February 14th is the day Saint Valentine was buried. His legacy became love because in the 3rd century AD, the Roman emperor outlawed the marriage of male soldiers because he believed a married soldier was a bad soldier. Saint Valentine performed secret marriages for these soldiers because he felt the law was unfair. Before he was taken to be put to death, he sent one last love letter to the jailer’s daughter, whom he had fallen in love with, and signed the letter, “From your Valentine.” This ended up costing him his life, and over time, people have used this holiday as a way to express their love!
All this research got me thinking… why don’t we love others this way every day? We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, right? Why do we need one special day to remember to express love to others? The Bible is full of commands about love. The greatest reminder of why we love is 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us” (NIV).
The opportunity to show love to those around us is endless and—even better yet—in this love, ultimately, God is glorified! What would it look like even in just our own lives if we lived every day like it was Valentine’s Day? We all know how it goes in the Starbucks line when one person pays it forward, right? The number of people who pay for the person’s order behind them has to be dozens deep! Can you visualize the ripple effect of kindness if, every day, you intentionally showed love to those around you?
How can we honor God on Valentine’s Day?
- Love your enemies—it’s easy to love those who love us, but what about loving those we don’t like? What if you sent a letter of forgiveness to that person who you have been holding a grudge against? Or said a prayer for that person?
- Pray for that which breaks God’s heart—Valentine’s Day isn’t happy for everyone. There are innocent people and children who are victimized by sex trafficking or entrapped in terribly abusive situations. Pornography and prostitution run rampant in society. Pray for those things that break God’s heart.
- Embrace and thank God for the wonderful gifts of Biblical promise He’s given us! Ezekiel 36:26 reminds us of God’s Valentine’s gift to us: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (ESV).
Never underestimate the effect of a small act of kindness—a card, a compliment, a candy bar, a hug, a flower. People are fighting battles we have no idea about; others are facing challenges we can’t even imagine! Don’t be afraid to love others like it’s Valentine’s Day every day!