Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:1-2

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ll admit that my Valentine’s Day is a tiny bit less happy this year. Why? Because I won’t be enjoying any of those omnipresent, colorful candy hearts with messages like “Be Mine” and “Text Me” (really!). Those little candies, technically called Sweethearts, are not being produced this year because the company that made them for over 130 years went bankrupt in the last year. Though Spangler Candy Co. bought Necco and promised to keep making its popular candies, they just didn’t have time to make enough this year. (In previous years, Necco produced over 8 billion Sweethearts.)

A woman being embraced.Now, to be honest, I really don’t like the taste of Sweethearts. If I had the chance to eat some, I’d take only one or two for old times’ sake. But that is the point. I associate Sweethearts with the Valentine’s Days of my youth, when a “Be Mine” candy from a girl in my third-grade class stirred my heart with young love. But, at least for this year, I’ll have to be satisfied with memories rather than the chalky sweetness of actual Sweethearts.

There will be lots of talk of love today, mainly of the romantic variety. But given the theme of the day, I thought I’d skip ahead in Ephesians to the first two verses of chapter 5. Love saturates these verses. First, we are “dearly loved children” of God (5:1). Second, we are to “walk in the way of love” (5:2). Third, we understand and experience the way of love through Christ, who “loved us and gave himself up for us.” Now that’s plenty of love in two short verses: God’s love for us; our love for others; Christ’s self-giving love for us.

As I reflect on this passage, I’m struck by the costliness of Christ’s love, costly to him, that is. Jesus didn’t communicate God’s love for us by giving us candy hearts with “You are loved” printed on them. Rather, he embodied love, offering himself as a sacrifice in our place. As we receive this love, we also accept the call to imitate Christ as we love others in a costly way.

Today, we can surely enjoy the giving and receiving of tokens of love: cards, flowers, chocolates . . . but no Sweethearts. Yet, may we be empowered by Christ’s love for us to love others in deeper and costlier ways, not so much “Be mine” as “I’m yours . . . in Christ.”

Something to Think About:

When have you experienced God’s love for you as one of his beloved children?

How might you “walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us”? Among your friends? In your family? In your workplace? In your neighborhood?

Something to Do:

Ask the Lord to show you how you might love someone today in the way that Christ has loved. As God leads, love in the way of Christ.

Prayer:

Gracious God, on this day when “love is in the air,” I’m glad to be reminded of your love. Thank you that I am one of your dearly loved children. Thank you for communicating your love for me through Christ, who gave himself for me. Thank you that your love is not fleeting, but secure, steady, and strong.

Help me, I pray, to walk in the way of love, not just today, but every day. Show me how I can love others in the way of Christ. Help me to be bold in reaching out with this love. Amen.

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!