Matthew 22:36-40 Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
In one of my favorite songs, the great Tina Turner asked the question, “What’s love got to do with it?” She called it “a second-hand emotion,” and asks, “Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?” Ms. Turner had been the victim of domestic violence, and as a fellow survivor, I can see why she sang the song. Love that hurts us and tears down our sense of worth and value isn’t really love at all.
True love doesn’t hurt, it uplifts, like the love of God that is unfailing, unquenchable, and everlasting. When Jesus was asked by an expert in the Law which was the greatest commandment in the Law, He responded that it was love for God and then love for our neighbors. Love underscores all that the Bible message represents, for it was God’s amazing love for us flawed human beings that began the whole salvation plan and story.
We learn of this love before we can even read in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For me as a child who didn’t feel loved, it was truly the Good News that someone loved the world and all who lived in it, including me. In the one year when I was age nine that I attended church as a child, I still remember learning the song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” and combined with the idea that God loved me, the two gave that young girl a lifelong faith that has never failed me.
I saw His love when He rescued me from the violent men, when food was made available for my children, although I had no money, and when I encountered trouble or got lost while traveling alone and I found safety. I somehow knew that the One who held the world in His hands was with me, and that it had everything to do with “the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is” (Ephesians 3:18).
On this day meant to reflect on romantic love, let us not fail to see that sharing our lives with someone who loves us and supports us and sees our value and worth is a demonstration of the love that God lavishes on His children, for we are reminded in Proverbs 18:22 that the man or woman who finds a spouse has found treasure, and that they have received favor from the Lord.
Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s all about love!