Valentine’s Day = Romance. At least that’s what social media shouts at us. From heart-shaped desserts to engagement rings, the internet has no shortage of how to make your celebration “perfect” this Feb. 14th.
Because of these bombarding messages, I fear that our view of this upcoming holiday has become very narrow.
Basically we’re told that if we’re single, then this day is not for us. (I know, I didn’t get married until age 30!)
It’s great and necessary to celebrate love between a man and woman, but I believe that if we stop there we have bought into the view that we have been sold in our highly commercialized society
And it is very short-sighted.
God’s love reaches so much farther.
So I have a proposal.
I propose that we make this month: Love Your Neighbor February
I propose that we shake off our tendency to focus on ourselves and what we do or do not have, and open our eyes on how we can love others and take advantage of this holiday.
Let’s make this month sweeter and allow our love to multiply.
Will you join me?
"And you shall love the LORD your God with all you heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength...And...you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater command than these." Mark 12:30-31
So here are: 7 “WHOS” to show love to and
5 Ways to Express It
#1 Honor Your Mother and Father
Even though usually reserved for Mother’s and Father’s Day, I believe this commandment (which is the 1st one with a promise) should be lived out more than once a year.
"Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12 (NKJV)
#2 Love Your Family
Many times we have the desire for others to reach out in love to us, when the God, who is love, says we should imitate Him and reach out to others in love. And whom better to start with than our own members.
Whoever is of your household: your husband, children, etc-start with them and move outward: parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins…
"the older women...admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children..." Titus 2:3-4 (NKJV)
#3 Love Your Church Family
It can be easy to forget those we see only 1 or 2 times a week (or even less if your church is purely online right now). Many times we forget the great and eternal connection we have with those who are among the body of Christ, but they are our everlasting family, so let’s not wait til heaven to show love, but begin on this side of eternity.
"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God..." Ephesians 2:19 (NKJV) "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:10 (NKJV)
#4 Love Your (Literal) Neighbor
It the hustle and bustle of life, its not uncommon to only see our neighbors as we’re pulling in or out of the driveway or checking the mailbox.
But it shouldn’t be that way. And I say we bring the community back into our neighborhoods. It takes work, but in the end it’s worth it. Let’s be the light exactly where God has placed us!
And if there’s someone on your street that you’d prefer to avoid, remember the question that certain lawyer asked Jesus in order to test Him:
"But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' Luke 10:29 (NKJV)
May we not be like this lawyer and try to justify ourselves.
Instead, let’s be the neighbors Jesus calls us to be: full of His mercy, compassion and love.
#5 Love the Least of These
Who are the least of these, you ask? Are they people of less value than others?
Certainly not, all are created in the image of God and therefore of great worth. When Jesus referenced “the least of these”, He was talking about those looked down upon and forgotten by society:
"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, ' Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethen, you did it to Me." Matthew 24:34-40 (NKJV)
#6 Love the Lonely
There are often more people who feel the sting of loneliness than we realize, but Scripture lists 2 particular groups and throughout the Bible, God speaks of His special care for them.
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble..." James 1:27a (NKJV) [Emphasis added.]
So, reach out to the lonely, the orphans and widows and help them remember that with Christ, they are never forgotten!
#7 Love Your Enemies
I left the hardest for last.
These are probably the people that we least desire to show love and compassion.
Maybe, like me, you have at times tried to brush away God’s words when the Holy Spirit brings them to mind.
Perhaps you’ve had this thought: They are the ones that least deserve love. And God very well knows everything they’ve done.
And you’re right.
But so are we undeserving of love. And God knows every sin, big and small, that we’ve committed yet He chose to sacrifice Himself and show us the greatest love of all.
"But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us...For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." Romans 5:8, 10 (NKJV) "Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children, And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2 (NKJV) "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse...Repay no one evil for evil...If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord." Romans 12:14,17a, 18-19 (NKJV) "If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink..." Proverbs 25:21 (NKJV) "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you..." Luke 6:27-28 (NKJV)
We must love our enemies, but we be must be wise in the form that we choose to do it. Depending on the situation, being around a particular someone could open a door that leads to personal harm or temptation.
By no means, am I saying God calls us to put ourselves in a dangerous situation by having contact with a certain person.
It may be best just to pray in love for them.
So use wisdom, pray, seek godly counsel and carry out this commandment and God directs.
And, if necessary, maintain your distance.
5 Simple “HOWS” to Express God’s LOVE
#1 Send a Hand-Written Letter
The message doesn’t have to be long or in eloquent wording, just a sincere expression of your appreciation for them.
No texts allowed! 😉
Texts are a common, daily and a kinda impersonal way of communicating. So take a little more effort and time for that personal touch.
Just think of how special you feel when you receive a card in the mail!
And after all, the goal is for them to feel loved!
#2 Call them on the Phone
Hearing a loved one’s voice is always nice, especially if its been a while since you’ve last talked.
And if it’s someone you don’t know very well, it’s a great way to resolve that and maybe even start a new friendship.
If you’re unsure of how to start the conversation or how to keep it going, write down some open-ended questions and/or topics beforehand. But always give them a genuine thanks for one way (no matter how small) they have been a blessing to you.
Take the time, you never know how many more opportunities you may have. Life is a truly a vapor.
#3 Mail them a Gift
Depending on your budget, it can be something from Amazon, or handmade and hand delivered.
Just don’t forget to write a short note, so they’ll know who it’s from!
**Check back this week because I will be posting a Valentine’s Gift Guide: Presents that Edify this coming week, Lord willing!
If you want to bless the least of these, you can find an organization close to your heart and send a love offering to support those in need. (Two we support are Voice of the Martyrs and Bibles for the World.)
#4 Make a Visit
Obviously during Covid we need to use wisdom to not put others at risk, but this can be a great blessing to those who have been stuck at home.
Safe Ways to Visit:
- Sing “Carols” from the sidewalk (We do at Christmas, why not Valentine’s?)
- Make signs that say “We love you!” or some other expression and hold them up where htye can see them or post them in their yard.
- Gather a small group and do a drive-by with decorated cars and honk as you pass their house.
- Take food, flowers or balloons and leave it at their doorstep.
- Serve at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
- Pick up groceries or other need and drop it off at their house.
#5 Pray and Bless Them
Prayer and Genuine kind words are key to showing love and should accompany whatever else we choose to do.
But as I mentioned above, sometimes it’s best to love from a distance and simply pray for someone.
No matter who it may be, lift them up to the Lord and ask that your act of love will be a seed in their hearts that will grow into a greater love for Him.
Love Your Neighbor February!
So, will you join me?
What ways have you shown love to others? Share in the comment section below!
Be Kind. Be encouraging. Be a Multiplier!