Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…
Did you know that there are actually six different words for “love” in Greek? Rather than to use only one word, like we do, the Greeks use distinctive words to describe every manner of love that exists. From playful love to parental love, brotherly love to self-love, there is a word for that.
Now, interestingly, this famous passage from 1 Corinthians 13 – the one that we often hear at weddings – is actually not talking about romantic love. Instead, Paul is addressing the church and the word he uses is agape, which is really is God’s love. It is the love that God has for us. It is the love we are meant to have for everyone else.
This year presents a fascinating paradox for us: we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday in the same week. Now, in my house, we have been aware of this juxtaposition for weeks because our Mardi Gras decorations are up right alongside our hearts. Yet, perhaps there is something worth exploring here.
Lent, the season of preparation for Easter, is about making our hearts ready again for the greatest message of love that the world has ever known. And though the greeting card and candy companies do seem to have co-opted Valentine’s Day these days, there is no better reflection as we begin this season of devotion than upon the truest meaning of what love really is. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13). That self-giving God-love that Paul describes in Corinthians is what we followers of Christ are meant to display every day. In all of our relationships, even our romantic ones.
So my encouragement for you, as we approach the season of Lent this year, is rather than to give something up, focus instead on how you might better give into your calling. Seek some way, big or small, every single day, to display God’s love to those around you. Perhaps your family. Maybe your caregivers. Or even a complete stranger you see crossing the road. Find some way to give God’s love away. Because the more you do, the more you will discover the true secret of it all: God has given you an endless supply.
Blessings, Pastor Janie