Behind the Paper Hearts...
Every February, we are inundated with love. We find hearts in various shapes and sizes in the stores we enter. Candy and balloon hearts profess messages of love in sour gummy flavors, dark and milk chocolate.
It goes without question, we’re fans of positive messages of support and love. But we have to ask...
Where does all this love come from?
The answer is simple enough; God is love.
The Greatest Commandment, as instructed by Jesus, is "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." The Greatest commandment can be found multiple times in the Bible. (This particular version comes from Mark: 12:30.)
Our greatest commandment is to love God first.
We must love God first above all else. Before we love ourselves, our parents, our spouses, above our children even.
When we choose to love God first, we look to Him for direction. Turning to God helps us to feel His love and direction. He helps us see with heavenly eyes. We are then better able to show His love to ourselves and others.
Which leads us to God's love...
As with many words we use today, love has many meanings. In the Greek translations of the bible the word Agape was used to describe God’s love. Wikipedia tells us Agape love "is a Greco-Christian term referring to unconditional love, "the highest form of love, charity" and "the love of God for man and of man for God ...Agape love is universal and unconditional. It has no end and "persists regardless of circumstance."
We are called to love.
The most distinctive form of love is agape love. It is the love God commanded us to have for each other.
Jesus said, "'Love (agape) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." ( Matthew 22:37-41).
Like God, Jesus sets the example for us by serving others, ministering to them, and ultimately dying on the cross. His sacrifice allows us to know the type of love we should have for God and one another. Spoiler alert, it has nothing to do with heart-shaped balloons or chocolate, but rather a love that is pure, divine, and selfless, and completely voluntary... ok who’s to say that can’t include chocolate 😉.
We can show our love for one another this time of year in countless ways.
The easiest is to offer grace and charity to the people around you through random acts of kindness. For example, letting someone in during traffic when we're pressed for time, checking up on a neighbor, or holding the door for a stranger.
Ask yourself, do you have and show agape love for the people you meet each day? The people closest to you, what about the person at work, who you don't like all that much, or the homeless person panhandling on the street?
What about a friend who hurt you? Are you willing to forgive?
Are you willing to go a bit out of your comfort zone to help someone in need, to volunteer your time?
As we move closer to Easter and reflect on the period leading up to Jesus' crucifixion, we encourage you to walk in love. Open your hearts to see God's love in your life and the world around you. Pray to be filled with His love. We encourage you to be a beacon of agape love.