"My love, for you I would climb the highest mountain, sail the deepest seas, or swim the widest rivers!
p.s. If it's raining on Saturday I won't be over."
Unfortunately this note too often reflects our attitude towards commitment - wouldn't you agree? It's easy to pledge and promise most anything, but when the time comes to fulfill our oaths, most folks bounce like a rubber ball.
But not St. Valentine…you know, the guy that this whole romantic card/candy/flower/dinner deal on February 14th is named after. The name Valentine comes from the same root word for "valor":
"strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery" (Source: www.dictionary.com)
See if you agree that he lived up to the meaning of his name reading about the valor of St. Valentine.
According to church tradition St. Valentine was a priest near Rome about the year 270 A.D. At that time the Roman Emperor was imprisoning Christians for not worshipping the Roman gods. During this persecution Valentine was arrested. Some say he was arrested because he was performing Christian marriages, but others say it was for helping Christians escape prison.
During the trial they asked Valentine what he thought of the Roman gods Jupiter and Mercury. Of course Valentine said they were false gods and that the God that Jesus called Father was the only true God. So the Romans threw him in prison for insulting the gods.
While in prison Valentine continued to minister. He shared the Gospel with the guards. One of the guards was a good man who had adopted a blind girl. He asked Valentine if his God could help his daughter. Valentine prayed and the girl was given her sight. The guard and his whole family, 46 people, believed in Jesus and were baptized. When the emperor heard about this, he was furious that Valentine was still making converts even in prison, so he had Valentine clubbed and beheaded.
Valentine and the prisoner's daughter that had been blind developed a special friendship, and, before he was executed, Valentine wrote her a note of encouragement and signed it "From your Valentine." From this sad situation we now celebrate Valentine's Day as a special day for expressing love and friendship.*
Isn't that amazing? Valentine knew all along that if he refused to go along with the idolatrous Roman culture and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with everyone around him - even in prison, that it might cost him his very life. But rather than being discouraged by his circumstances, he was emboldened by them!
You know what? Valentine knew what true love is. Not the wishy washy namby pamby fickle infatuation that we call love today. Rather his definition comes straight from the Author and Embodiment of love itself:
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends (John 15:12-13).
Jesus willingly left His home in heaven, took on human flesh and walked on this dusty and depraved planet for 33 years.
He lived the life we should have lived, then He died the death we should have died.
And when the nails pierced Hands and feet, they also went straight through the heart of the Father.
Love was crucified on that dark Friday 2000 years ago…but on Sunday love resurrected our Savior and opened the gates of heaven to anyone and everyone who trusts in Jesus alone for salvation!
And now He calls us to a life of love…a life characterized by sacrifice and exemplified by surrender to share the gospel no matter what the cost.
So this February 14th, meditate on the valor of St. Valentine. A person who loved both Jesus and his fellow human beings with a reckless passion that will be remembered forever. And when you open up your valentines, remember the one that God the Father sent you 2000 years ago that reads:
"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
Knowing that we are loved that much is the fuel that energizes our heart to pound with gratitude and bestows on us the fervor to lay down our reputations, our social statuses, and even our lives for the sake of the One who laid down His life for us.
May we all have a valor-filled St. Valentine 's Day!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Most people don't know the story behind St. Valentine, especially the part about his commitment to sharing the gospel - even while in prison. Take some time this week to pray for an open door to share the good news about Jesus as you share the history of the holiday. What a great way to "lay down your life for your friends"!
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Jesus, thank you for empowering St. Valentine to be such an amazing witness for Your glory and give His life for THE Cause. May we take advantage of this holiday named in his honor by sharing the gospel with our friends who are lost and in need of a relationship with You. Thank you for dying on the cross for our sins and showing your amazing love.
Read: Romans 5:8. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Get: Revel in God's perfect love for you this Valentine's Day. Check out this YouTube video on God's Love.
Big Idea: The story of St. Valentine's martyrdom should inspire us to lay down our lives for our friends and share the gospel no matter what our circumstances.
Key Scripture: John 15:12-13
What impresses you most about the story of St. Valentine?
What are some specific ways you could 'lay down your life for your friends'?
How could you tie in the gospel with the story of St. Valentine?
What other ways can you apply this Soul Fuel?
Blurb: The story of St. Valentine's martyrdom should inspire us to lay down our lives for our friends.