Valentine’s Day. The words conjure up images of hearts and flowers, chocolates and little cupids, greeting cards and stuffed animals with “I love you” tattooed somewhere on their furry exterior.
Valentine’s Day, as we celebrate it, is a good time to remember the loves of our lives. But, like our celebration of Christmas, this day has become yet another exercise in consumerism.
– In 2012, Americans sent an estimated 150 million greeting cards and spent an average of $126 for Valentine’s Day, providing a $17.5 billion input to the national economy.
– By comparison, average spending on Christmas was around $750 and added an estimated $580 billion to the economy last year.
– About 196 million roses are prepared for Valentine’s Day each year.
– And here are two of the saddest Valentines Day statistics: according to one survey, 53% of women said they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something; and, 14% percent of women send themselves flowers this day.
It seems the business of Valentine’s Day has taken us far from the original intent of the day, which was to honor an early saint of the church. Valentine’s Day was established to remember the martyrdom of one or more saints by the name of Valentinus in the 200s AD. In the Middle Ages, the day was associated with the tradition of courtly love, with knights pledging their honor to protect fair damsels from whatever evil they might face. But it was 18th century England where the modern practice emerged of expressing love through hand-written cards, flowers and candies. Mass produced cards became a big business in the 19th century, while the 20th century made “accessorizing” this day a must.
All of this seems far removed from the love God demonstrated for us in Christ. And yet, when it comes to love and loyalty, we are no different than our Hebrew and early Christian ancestors in the faith. How many times did the people of Israel turn away from God’s love and break God’s commandments? How many times did the first Christians sin and seem beyond hope of redemption? Too many to count.
And yet God never gives up on God’s people. Here are the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jer 31:31, 33).
What better Valentine could we receive than God’s love, written on our hearts? That Valentine came to us in the form of a man—Jesus, the Son of God. In Jesus, there was no mistaking this message that God’s love is for us; it is complete; and, it is unrelenting.
The gift of the Holy Spirit fulfills the promise from Jeremiah that God’s law and God’s love will be inscribed on our hearts. The Holy Spirit is working God’s love into us, like yeast being worked into dough. This is not something that happens in one day. It takes a lifetime for God to work God’s love into us. But God will never leave this job undone. And that is very good news for Valentine’s Day, or any other day.
So when you receive your Valentines this year, remember the best Valentine of all is the one that comes to you, postage free, straight from the living God.