Valentine parties

When did a four-letter word called “love” start to define us: From those wonderful, elementary Valentine parties? Remember? Our decorated sack stood with the others waiting for the mounds of cards ~ which never materialized. While the popular, smart, athletic kid’s sacks overflowed.
Impression: We’re defective, unlovable.
God’s View: “You are altogether beautiful, my love, there is no flaw in you” (Song of Solomon 4:7, NKJV).
But as we grew older we wondered: “What if I gave gifts, money, or more of my time for love?
Impression: Can I buy love?
God’s View: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by [our] works of righteousness which we have done . . .(Titus 3: 4-5).
Then someone, whom we’ve trusted with our love, betrays us!
Impression: A lonely, broken heart.
God’s View: “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart” (Psalm 34:18). “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21: 4).
But what about those trying to find that elusive word “love” like me? Should I join them? They’re different, outside the norm.
Impression: Misfits appear happy.
God’s View: “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me” (Psalm 27:10). “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118: 8-9).
But non-conformists have a price, too. And once again I feel like I have to perform: “If I’d be like so-in-so, change this or that, try harder. I’d be welcomed and loved.
Impression: Measuring up takes work.
God’s View: “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they measuring themselves by themselves, comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10: 12b).
Praise God, Christ defeated Satan’s world damaging view of love. Jesus suffered a humiliating death on the cross because of his profound, unconditional LOVE for us: “ . . . not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4: 10). He paid it all.
-An empty Valentine sack does not define me.
-There is nothing I can do to earn His love, or others.
-No longer will I need to measure up.
-Now I’m dressed in His righteousness.
-He’ll never betray me.
Does this mean loving others will be easy? No, but He is only a heartbeat, a prayer away to sustain us through: “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24b).
This year may we love others as God has loved us; accepted, and free with no strings attached: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (John 4:11).