Love-Sick or Love-Healthy?

February 14, 2023

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The memories it stirs! I still remember each year as a young boy making my own distinct, personal post office box. My friends all did as well, and they were the places we would deposit our cards for each other. I also remember poring over the cards in the stash that came in a pack of approximately 30-32 for ones that would have the right special words for the girls I liked. Notice that was plural, and the one thing I don’t remember are the names of most of those girls.

Today, Valentine’s Day has grown past the cardboard boxes. In 2022 $23.9 billion was specifically spent on Valentines’, with the average consumer spending $192.80 on their loved one. (Sorry, Patty!) We are called to buy flowers, candy, cards, and gifts to express our love.

Lovesick shoppers shell out more and more each year. 2023’s tab is expected to be $25.9 billion in Cupid’s name. That makes Valentine’s Day the third priciest holiday on the calendar for U.S. consumers. But love might not be the only motivator. Roughly 39% of people expect their Valentine to spend at least $50 on a gift, according to WalletHub’s 2023 Valentine’s Day Survey. Sometimes it’s just doing what is expected.

Jesus said to all His followers, “The new command I give to you is that you love one another, just as I have loved you. By this all people will know that you are my followers if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). He taught that love is powerful. Love can melt someone’s hard heart. It can change someone’s attitude. Love can overcome evil. It’s easy to love those who love us but far more powerful, beautiful, and transformative to love the unlovable.

The billions spent on Valentine’s Day spell big-spend for sure. Here is the truth, however: The love Jesus calls us to is more costly because it will cost us more than just money. It costs the truly big things: our time, pride, forgiveness, and more.

A little over two thousand years ago, love transformed the world. It brought down the entire Roman Empire because of the way the followers of Jesus loved Him and through Him loved the world.

On Valentine’s Day you get to choose to whom you will express your love. If you are a Christ follower, your choice has been made. We are called to love everyone because everyone is created in the image of God. Whether or not they dress like you, look like you, think like you, vote like you, behave like you, believe like you—they are loved by Jesus and are to be targets of your love.

Jesus got even more specific. He said, “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Now, that’s a huge task. The power of God cannot show up without the love of God being in place. The only reason that we have ever seen God’s power is because of the tremendous love that He has for us in His heart.

The reason we saw Jesus operate in the power of God and do the miracles He did is because He always walked in the love of God. There was not a moment when He was out of touch with His Father, and therefore the Father’s love pervaded everything He said and did.

The same is even more true for you and me. The power of God will not show up in our lives until the love of God begins to work in our hearts. It is the love of God that places a demand on the power of God. If love is absent, then there is no need or demand for power. We will do everything in our own strength. However, when we are filled with God’s love, we will be moved with compassion. As the love of God begins to work in our hearts, the power of God will show up in our lives like never before.

Love offers us no place to hide. It allows no loopholes, short cuts, or workarounds. But isn’t it wonderful Jesus didn’t look for a loophole to loving you? What does love without loopholes require of you at home, at work, on the little league field, in traffic, in line at the grocery store? That’s not a confusing question. We almost always know the answer to that question. The hard part is actually doing what love requires.

Honestly asking and answering the “What does love require?” will drive you crazy in a good way. It will cause you to do difficult things because you want to do them. You will find yourself giving up more and more of who you are in order to love others more effectively. It won’t be easy, and you will feel your control of every little thing weakening. But think about it—isn’t this the goal of our lives? We say, “I want less of me and more of Jesus.” Asking, “What does love require?” gets me there. It is basically asking, “What would Jesus do if He was here right now?” Then it is my choice: Will I do it?

This kind of love is irresistible. It will change a marriage, a family, a church, a school, a community—even the world.