On this day, February 14, 270 A.D., a man by the name of Valentine, a religious leader in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.
According to History.com, The Roman Emperor, known as Claudius the Cruel, “was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns.” Apparently, he was having a difficult time getting men to join his army because of their attachment to the wives and families. So, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome.
According to one of the legends, Valentine, “realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.”
When Claudius learned of Valentine’s actions, he was arrested, put on trial and found guilty. On February 14th he was beaten and beheaded.
The legend also says that Valentine had fallen in love with a young lady, possibly the jailer’s daughter, and left her a letter signed “From Your Valentine.”
What is not a legend is that God’s love for misguided people, who had wandered far from Him and were lost in sin. Love caused Him to send His son into the world to die for our sins (John 3:16).
The Bible affirms that “God is love” (I Jn. 4:8). He is the essence. epitome and embodiment of love.
William Barclay, in his Daily Bible Study Series, says that God’s love is the explanation of creation, His providence, plan of redemption, and eternal life. It also explains man’s free will.
“If God is love,” Barclay writes, “he cannot exist in lonely isolation. Love must have someone to love and someone to love it.” That loved motived God’s care for us, and provide a remedy for sin, so we could have fellowship with Him and live forever in Heaven.
However, for this to mean anything, our love must be “The free response of the heart.” Thus, “God, by a deliberate act of self-limitation, had to endow men with free will.”
Jesus came into the world as a man and by His choice to obey the Father’s will, “gave His life as a ransom for many.” In the shadow of the cross, he said, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Then he added, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (Jn. 15:12-13).
In the same way, we can choose to love our fellow-man, friends, family and brethren. Or choose not to. Or love, of course, is demonstrated in our attitudes and actions.
What is love?
The Bible defines it.
This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen. (1 Cor. 13:4-8, J. B. Phillips Translation)
Men, suppose we applied that kind of love to the relationship with our wives? (Eph 5:25-30) Paul’s command would become very specific and practical, not just a generic thought left to our own selfish motivations or sexual impulses.
Suppose wives embodied this attitude of love in their families? Paul’s command for wives to “love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4)would transcend a cold list of “do’s and don’ts,” but become affectionate and affirming.
What if we treated our brothers and sisters in Christ by this standard of love? It would eliminate suspicion, bitterness, and divisiveness. And facilitate kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.
“There is no safe investment,” observed C. S. Lewis. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.”
“Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
On this Valentine’s day, embrace love. True love. God’s love. It will be worth it. Both in this life and in the one to come.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman