Valentine’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated holidays. There are several different explanations for the holiday, which was declared a celebration of martyrs in A.D. 496 by Saint Pope Gelasius I. Some authorities believe the celebration was designed to divert Christians from the pagan observance of Lupercalia, an ancient Roman festival. Other experts link the custom of exchanging valentines with the old English belief that birds chose their mates on that day. Regardless of the holiday’s origins, we can find God in Valentine’s Day.
The early church had two saints named Valentine. In one story the Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade young men to marry, thinking that single men made better soldiers. A priest named Valentine disobeyed and secretly married young couples. Another version asserts that Valentine was an early Christian who made friends with children. When the Romans imprisoned him, the children threw loving notes through his cell window.
Valentine’s Day is an especially good time to remember that Jesus condensed the Ten Commandments into two: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love others as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). He said the love we have for one another will prove to the world that we are his followers (John 13:35). Once we experience God’s lavish, unconditional love, the only reasonable response is to share that love with others.
Jesus also gave a command that appears illogical and impossible: We are to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27). Our natural tendency is to love only those who love us, which Jesus said is no credit to us. The selfless love he described can be expressed only with supernatural help from God’s Spirit, but it offers the world an undeniable witness of God’s transforming love and power. Maybe we should use February 14 to reach out to those who don’t come to mind when we think of valentines. If we do that, we’ll be sure to find God in Valentine’s Day.
Enjoy this video about God’s love letter, the Bible, written to you:
© Dianne Neal Matthews. Dianne writes articles for magazines and websites, stories for compilation books, and daily devotional books based on God’s love letter. This material is adapted from The One Year On This Day (Tyndale House 2005).