What is love?
According to Merriam-Webster, love is “a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/love). Most people would agree with this definition. In fact, our culture has embraced the idea that love is primarily a feeling we have towards someone else. We see it in our movies, music, art, relationships, and we sense that no stronger than on February 14th every year. And while love does certainly involve feelings, the Bible gives an altogether different definition of love: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13); or this: “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16); or this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
When we look at these verses (and the theme of love running throughout the Bible), we see that love is less about our feelings of affection, and more about our willingness - our choice - to seek the good of others, even (especially) at great cost to ourselves. So, a more biblical definition of love would be “laying down our life for the benefit of others.”
Think about it this way - when do you feel more valued, treasured, loved? Is it when someone tells you how they feel about you? Tells you that you are pretty? Gives you a box of chocolates or some flowers? Or is it when someone is willing to give up their comforts and even experience loss for your gain?
And the greatest love we can experience is when our eyes are turned away from ourselves and turned toward the greatest act of love in history - the death of the Son of God for undeserving people.
So, if we really want to LOVE others well this Valentine’s Day, let us not stop with simply buying flowers or cards or chocolates. Let us choose the harder (and more rewarding) path to joyfully serve others at great cost to ourselves. Not only will they feel incredibly loved, but they will get a glimpse of the greatest love - the sacrificial love of Christ.