Valentine’s Day is not a specifically Christian holiday, but it deals with love, which is at the heart of Christianity. Paul said that there are three things that last forever — faith, hope, and love. He added, “But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
Valentine’s Day offers us a great opportunity to say, “I love you,” to many people around us. Expressing our love for people should be something that we do in every season of the year, but, given human nature, we need the nudge of a time like Valentine’s Day to remind us to do it.
When a winter’s storm hit one town, the local radio station made the announcement that school had been canceled the next day. After the announcement, a young boy called the station and asked if school had been cancelled for the next day. He was told that it had been. About ten minutes later, he called again, asked the same question, and was given the same answer. This continued into the evening. The person at the radio station recognized the boy’s voice when he called again, so she said to him, “I’ve told you that school has been cancelled for tomorrow. Why do you keep asking me that question?” The boy said, “Because I just love to hear you say it.”
Love is like that. People just love to hear others say to them, “I love you.”
Jesus Himself loves to hear that. I say that because He asked Peter that question three times —“Peter, do you love me?” (John 21:15-17). This occurred after the resurrection when Jesus appeared to Peter and six other disciples as they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee.
After Jesus made His appearance to these disciples, they came ashore from their fishing and ate some fish and bread that He had prepared for them. As they sat around the fire, Jesus turned to Peter and asked him those three questions — “Do you love me?” Peter’s affirmation of his love undoubtedly meant a lot to Jesus.
Now, because of His grace and love, Jesus was also giving Peter the opportunity to affirm his love for Him. Just as Peter had denied Jesus three times, now he publicly affirmed his love for Jesus. Love is always extending grace and forgiveness like Jesus did.
Each time Peter repeated that he loved Jesus, Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” It is not enough to affirm our love. We must express our love in what we do. It is the same with our love for others and for the Lord. Paul said, “Love is patient, kind, does not envy,” etc. (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Jesus said, that if we love Him, we need to “feed His sheep”, minister to others. Genuine love shows up in what we do.
Love is central to the kingdom. Valentine’s Day is a good reminder of its importance.
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LYNN JONES is a retired pastor, supply preacher and author who lives in Oxford. He can be reached at email@example.com.