At a Loss for Words: Love and Valentine’s Day 2011
Ah, Valentine’s Day.
The day our society takes on a yearly basis to celebrate that which we really know little about. On a yearly basis we get inundated with ads for chocolate, flowers, expensive dinners, and cell phones. This evening, in honor of Valentine’s day, I will be sweeping Theresa off her feet with sushi… because nothing says romance quite like raw fish.
With all that is going on in the world around us, I think that today is a perfect day to sit back and think through what love is really about. While Hollywood will crank out another sappy chick-flick that portrays an unrealistic romance, halfway across the world young people are sacrificing themselves out of devotion to their country.
Several years ago I read a book called The Forgotten Soldier whose author talks about his regret in word choice. He lamented his descriptions of earlier battles because the words he used were now less powerful causing his descriptions of things far more awful to fall short. I wonder if we don’t find ourselves in the same situation today: overusing the word love and causing it to lose its’ meaning and power. Late last week I read a brief description of the Greek words for love which has caused me to be slightly jealous of the Greek and Hebrew languages for their many different words to describe love. I think that they had something there… the language that they would use to describe their enjoyment of tacos was different from the way that they would describe their passion for and devotion to their wives.
With the absence of the words needed to truly express love to those around us we are left with no choice but to show, act out, and perform love to those in our lives and those with whom we come in contact. To do this we are given the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 to act as our guide:
1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
So let us celebrate this day by being patient and kind, and caring well for those who Christ has placed in our lives.