How to Be a Lovable Valentine 2/15/98

Song of Solomon 8:6, 7
Page 998 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

Our culture is one noted for synthetics, substitutes, and simulations. When anything of value is made immediately someone will copy it. It is the most common form of flattery. Gucci scarves, Louis Vuitton handbags, Rolex, and Cartier watches, video cassettes, and designer jeans are readily copied. One common characteristic of the fakes is they never meet the standards of the genuine.

Our Lord said, “love.” Many of His followers took Him at His word and did it. The impact and influence was so dramatic that the world tried to copy it. Hoping for the same fulfilling result offered by genuine love, the world has come up even more empty as a result of fake love.

Karl Menninger, co-founder of the Menninger Clinic, one of the modern era’s most outstanding psychiatrist said, “Love is the medicine for the sickness of the world.”

AGAPE is the Greek word translated “love.” We have one word “love” for a variety of emotions, acts, and attitudes. The Greek language being very definitive has several.

One is EROS. They used this word to speak of love that we know as physical attraction between persons on a sexual level. Their word for that emotion was not related to what was meant by AGAPE. We get our word “erotic” from their word EROS.

PHILOS, was the Greek word for a kind of love which we describe by friendship or brotherly love. It is warm affection apart from any sexual attraction at all.

AGAPE, is the Greek word most often translated “love” in the Bible. The word emerged in the Bible era meaning “the ultimate willful act of self- sacrificing for the welfare of someone else.” The AGAPE kind of love is Calvary’s love. The proto-type of AGAPE is the love Christ showed us.

Only when we love Him with a love that is self-sacrificing for His welfare can we get EROS and PHILOS working right.

Tragedy of tragedy is that in our society an attempt is made to define all love by the definition of EROS, that is, sensual, fleshly love. For that reason it is inconceivable that brotherly love can exist without sexual involvement. Or, that self-sacrificing love can be expressed without expecting some sexual favor in return.

Annually American’s celebrate a festival of love called Valentine’s Day. People in England celebrated the day as early as 1446. A writer in an American magazine as early as 1863 noted, “Indeed, with the exception of Christmas there is no festival throughout the world which is invested with half the interest belonging to this cherished anniversary.”

However, it was the Romans who initiated the celebration. In the 200’s a Christian named Valentine lived in Rome under the cruel Emperor Claudius II. Claudius II had Valentine put in prison for aiding persecuted Christians. There he was the Lord’s agent for healing the jailor’s daughter of blindness. Around 270 AD he was beheaded on Palatine Hill, a victim of his loyalty to the Lord.

In 496 AD Pope Gelasius named February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day; a day to celebrate love. Today we continue the custom of sending love notes to special people in our lives. They express our love for others and solicit their love with the expression “Be My Valentine.”

Jesus Christ is the personification of God’s valentine to us. He is a declaration of love embodied. In turn He solicits our love for the Lord. Some Valentine verses are warm and rich with sentiment, some mushy, some humorous. One I like is this.

We went to Cupid’s Garden and wandered ore the land
The moon was shining brightly and I held her little scarf.
Yes, I held her little scarf. Ah, how the moment flies.
The stars shone out in beauty, I gazed into her lunch basket.
Yes, I gazed into her lunch basket and wished I had a taste.
There sat my dainty little charmer, my arm around her jam box.
Yes, my arm around her jam box, this charming little miss.
There was mischief in her eyes and I softly stole a sandwich.

A golden oldie goes like this:
Roses are red, Violets are blue.
Your mother was beautiful, what happened to you.

On a higher note and with more purpose we can better understand the meaning of true Biblical love, by considering how the word AGAPE is used in the Scripture. Note:

Try substituting some of the meanings of EROS in John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world…that He felt romantic about it…that He got a tingling sensation down His spine…that He had a friendly spirit of tolerance and brotherhood toward it no matter what it believed…”

The text says He loved so much that “He gave His only begotten Son.” Love is an act of willful, self-sacrificing for the good of another.

A word of caution lest Satan twist even that meaning. We are to love Christ with such self-sacrificing love that we obey Him at all cost. If that doesn’t come first, then some persons can conceive of sacrificing their personal moral purity to gratify the sensual desires of a carnal person. This is a form of self-sacrificing for the welfare of another. It is a perverted improper form.

When Christ told us to love our enemies, He was not urging us to have a warm, wonderful, happy relationship with them. That may be impossible. He was appealing to His followers to engage in acts of self-sacrificing service in order to win them. It means to give without expecting in return.

Little Chad was a quiet, shy child. One day he told his mother he wanted to make a Valentine for every boy and girl in his class. Her heart sank. To herself she said, “Oh, I wish he wouldn’t do this.” She had seen how the other children ignored and mistreated him. Walking home from school Chad was always a few steps behind “the gang.” They laughed, talked, and hung on each other, but ignored Chad. He was never included.

His mother decided to go along with him. As he requested she bought the paper, glue, and crayons. For three whole weeks Chad worked every night until he completed the 35 Valentines.

On the big day Chad was excited as he left home with his 35 hand-made Valentines.

His mom knew what to expect so in order to be prepared to cheer him up when he came home she baked him his favorite cookies. This would help ease the pain of his disappointment.

That afternoon she waited with the warm cookies and cold milk. Hearing the children coming from schools she looked out the window. Sure enough, same scene. The group laughing, talking, and hanging on each other with Chad a few steps behind.

As he walked in the house his hands were empty. She choked back the tears.

“Mommy has some warm cookies and cold milk for you Chad,” she said.”

He hardly heard a word as he marched by with his face aglow, and all he could say was “Not a one … not a single one.”

And then he added, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”

This is the kind of self-sacrificing love in Christ’s name that can reach hardened hearts and win them to Christ. Remember our objective is not to win friends for ourselves but to win followers of Christ.

It isn’t a song until it is sung.
It isn’t a bell until it is rung.
It isn’t love until it is given away.

The kind of love the Father wants to harvest in your life has several facets as noted in I Corinthians 13: 4 – 8. Observe: “Love suffers long,” that is, it is patient. This word was always used to speak of patience with people not circumstances. We are to be patient with circumstances also, but this word relates to personal relationships. It is the ability to be wronged and wronged again and having the power to retaliate but never even thinking about doing it. That is love.

Christ at His trial is a perfect example.

II Peter 3:9 says of God “He is longsuffering — not willing that any should perish.”

God has had many opportunities to step on us and He has the ability to do it, but the idea has never occurred to Him. He is patiently giving opportunity to lovingly repent and relate to Him so you will not by your rejection of Christ consign yourself to hell.

The person who during courtship in the name of love insists on erotic love isn’t showing patience. Such conduct reveals that what is being called “love” is “lust,” that is, it is eros not agape. Love can always wait to give while lust can never wait to get.

“Love …is kind.” This is the flip side of patience. Patience endures the injustices of others while kindness pays them back with good deeds. Inherent in the Greek word for kindness is the meaning of being “useful.”

This identifies love as being uncompromisingly courteous. It is a triumph of grace. Love without kindness would be like spring without flowers. Love doesn’t just endure injustice, it pays back with good.

Jesus didn’t say, “Love your enemies…feel good about them.” He said, “do good to them,” that is, “be useful to them.”

Regarding certain offenses the Bible instructs us: “Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head'” (Romans 12:20).

In New Orleans I was talking with a woman who was fed up with her husbands conduct. I asked, “Have you tried heaping coals of fire on his head?” She said, “No but I tried boiling water.”

In the Bible era fire wood was scarce. As a result it cost to keep a fire going for future use. When the wealthy finished with a fire and left it the poor would often try to slip in and take a coal to start their fire. The text means that when an injustice is done to you don’t treat the offender poorly, show them kindness. Give the needy so many coals that the weight is such that they have to carry it on their head. Heap coals of fire upon the. Be useful to them.

“Love does not envy.” Another word for “envy” is “jealousy.” Shakespeare called it “the green sickness,” Solomon spoke of it as “rottenness of the bones.” A Latin proverb called it “the enemy of honor.” It is “the sorrow of fools.”

One form of envy is to want what you have. Another is to wish you didn’t have it.

The root word for envy means to “boil.”

Envy and jealousy are not rational passions. They are white-hot emotions set on fire of hell itself. Revenge is foolish and futile.

“Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” To be “puffed up” means to have an attitude of false pride while the idea of parading oneself means to verbalize pride. Our word “windbag” comes from the root word “vaunteth” or “parade.”

This is the flip side of envy. Envy is wanting what others have. To be a boastful windbag is to try to make others want what you have.

“Love does not behave rudely.” This is a reference to Christian etiquette at work. Love is always polite and never disorderly.

“Love does not seek its own.” It isn’t selfish.
It doesn’t seek its own kind.
It doesn’t seek its own way.
It doesn’t seek its own rights.

“Love is not provoked.” The root is the word from which we get our word “paroxysm” which means “a sudden outburst.” Thus, love is never ready to fight.

Love isn’t irritable and resentful. Self-centered people are always touchy.

“Love thinks no evil.” The word “thinks” translates LOGIZOMAI which was an accounting term meaning “to keep a mathematical account.” Love doesn’t keep score. One bad thing about score keeping is that one who always insist on keeping score insists on being the score keeper and the score keeper always wins. This is the same word used to speak of God’s pardoning act toward us.

“Love does not rejoice over iniquity.” Love doesn’t brag over sin. “Eternity” magazine had an article related to Ernest Hemingway in which he said people can sin and get away with it.

He also down played the idea that the consequences to sin was Victorian, prudish, and a religious fundamentalist viewpoint. The article went on to say Hemingway was living proof of this fact. Ironically ten years to the day after Hemingway released that statement he took his own life. Instead of repenting over sin, he rejoiced over it.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “Everybody soon or later sits down to a banquet of consequences.”

“Love rejoices in the truth.” Jesus, the way, the TRUTH, and the life is the personification of “the truth.”

Do you rejoice in Him so fully that you are willing publicly to give yourself to Him as a self- sacrifice?

Agostino d’ Antonio, a sculptor from Florence, Italy, worked diligently on a piece of carriona marble. In frustration over his failure to do anything constructive with it, he discarded it. Other sculptors tried in vain to work with its obstinate composition. Michelangelo saw the massive discarded marble and had it brought to his studio. Painstakingly he began to work on it. Slowly his skilled hands began to release the hidden beauty in it. Eventually his efforts resulted in the classical work of “David” being freed.

The secret of the success was not the stone but Michelangelo. Look at your life! Is it incomplete, perhaps you even have a feeling of being discarded. You are a potential masterpiece. In the hands of Christ He produces nothing but His best from your worst. In love commit yourself to Him.

Love is what drew our beloved Lord from Heaven.

Love it was that took Him to Calvary.

His was love that many waters cannot quench nor can the floods drown it. Love wins in the end.