Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Ladies, if you haven’t told your man what you want, now is the time. Gentlemen, get moving.

I enjoy receiving chocolates, flowers, and being treated to a fancy dinner as much as the next gal (or, in the case of my good friend, a gift that comes in the form of a clean dishwasher and a folded basket of laundry). It’s nice to honor the loved ones in our lives, even if the impetus is a so-called Hallmark holiday.

Valentine’s Day is also a good reminder to reflect on the love Christ has for us. In fact, I Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the love chapter, which provides a formula for being “heart-smart” as we learn to be disciples of Jesus. The Apostle Paul writes this in verses 1-7:

      If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be      a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of                God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move                  mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor            and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have              gained nothing.

    Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its     own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about       injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is               always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Paul’s words are a good starting place to determine what our lives look like once it’s been transformed by Christ.

  • Pick your instrument. Some days, I reverberate like the clanging symbol Paul references. I speak before thinking, mutter under my breath, roll my eyes, and am quick to pass judgment on those around me. Thankfully, The Holy Spirit does not let those behaviors go unchecked. When God disciplines me regarding such behaviors, I ask for forgiveness and make amends. I move forward asking God to help me sound more like Him and less like me. 
  • Complete an honest evaluation. The love traits Paul writes about perfectly describe Jesus. He is patient with us, even in our shortcomings. He doesn’t hold our sins against us once we’ve confessed them. His heart grieves when justice of this world falls short. If we insert Jesus’ name in for “love” in this passage, we clearly see his character. How does it look when you insert your name in the same manner? My honest evaluation indicates I’m lacking in several areas. God is ready and willing to help us fill in the blanks, because an honest evaluation today leads to holy living tomorrow.
  • Chart your growth. The freedom in following Christ is knowing that old behaviors are gone and they don’t have to creep up on us every again! In fact, we can kick old habits to the curb and refuse to let them in the door when they come knocking. Where have you seen Christ working in your life? Where do you experience victory where you once floundered? We can step forward with the confidence that Christ is making us new creatures who aren’t bogged down by the weight of the past.

Flowers will wilt, chocolates will be eaten, and expensive meals sometimes lead to indigestion when the bill arrives. After all, a sappy celebration designated to one day a year pales in comparison to an eternal relationship with a forgiving, patient, loving God.