February. A month filled with cupids and hearts, chocolates and roses, chick-flicks and diamond commercials. A month some love and some loathe as Valentine’s Day looms, bringing the thrill of romance for some and the sting of loneliness for others.
Unless you live in a hole without internet and TV, you can’t escape this overly-commercialized holiday. Its history, like that of many holidays, is shrouded in convoluted mystery and is infused with both paganism and Christianity. Regardless of its origins, February 14th is meant to be a celebration of love. Unfortunately, the “love” it celebrates is narrowly defined and poorly applied.
The Bible speaks of multiple forms of love. Romantic love (eros), friendship love (philia), family love (storge), and divine love (agape). Valentine’s Day primarily revolves around the first of those. Some have tried to expand it to encompass the second and third, using it as a chance to get together with friends or buy flowers for their daughters. But at least to the commercial world, Valentine’s Day remains about romance.
Celebrating a Different Kind of Love for Valentine’s Day
If we can’t ignore February 14th and its impact on our Facebook ads and commercials, perhaps we can use it as an opportunity to reclaim the definition and expression of love. The world has a lot to say about love, but most of it misses the mark—by a lot. Valentine’s Day is just one evidence of how woefully incomplete our society’s view of love is.
Whether you’re an ardent Valentine’s Day celebrator or an adamant Valentine’s Day hater, the “love” fest of February is a chance for us as believers to focus on a different and more complete kind of love: God’s love.
1 John 4:8 tells us that God IS love. His very nature is love. He doesn’t just love as a verb; He is love as His being. This means that He Himself is the definition of love. His love is perfect and eternal. If you want to know what love is, you have to know God. And the good news is that we can know God through His Son, Jesus, who loved us by laying down His life for us (1 John 3:16). This is the ultimate demonstration of agape love."God doesn't just love as a verb; He is love as His being. This means that He Himself is the definition of love." -@BritneyLynHamm #collegiatedisciplemaker A Month of One Anothering: 28 Ways to Show God’s Love in the Month of February Click To Tweet
God’s agape love encompasses the other kinds of love, too. He loves us as a Father and a brother (storge love; see Hosea 11, 1 John 3:1, and Mark 3:34-35). He loves us as a friend (philia; see John 15:13-15). And He loves us the way a husband loves His bride (eros; see Hosea 2:19 and Isaiah 54:5).
True, biblical love is not cute cupids, magical moments, rushing romance, and preposterous proposals. It is self-sacrifice for sake of another, and it’s relevant to every form of human relationship we have.
Thirsty for Love
Our culture is thirsty for love. The people around us are, as the classic rock song says, “looking for love in all the wrong places.” The kind of love Jesus offers may not come with the pizazz the world is looking for, but it comes with the profoundness the world desperately needs.
As God’s people, we get to celebrate and show the love of God. Not just on February 14th, but every day. Not just any love, but God’s love. Not just in romantic relationships, but in every relationship. What better way to celebrate a day of love than to show the one who IS love to the world all month long (and better yet, all year long)?
God has already given us plenty of guidance on how to celebrate and show His love to others. The call to “love one another” is repeated over a dozen times in the New Testament, along with several dozen more instances of “one anothering” instructions. We’ve compiled these into a list of 28 ways to love one another as Christ has loved us. That works out to one per day in the month of February (we recognize that it’s February 3rd, so you’ll have two extras, but you can save this as a handy resource for future Februaries).
Join us in focusing on one of these each day for the rest of the month. Dialogue with your community about what each of these mean, and ask God to reveal to you how you can love others in all your relationships in these specific ways. And join us on Mondays and Thursdays on The Collegiate DiscipleMaker as we focus our articles on various topics related to love and relationships (such as how to love the people in your dorm, honoring your parents, and loving other with gentleness, to name a few! We’ll throw in a couple on singleness, dating, and marriage, too).
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
28 Ways to Love One Another in the Month of February
- Seek peace with one another (Mark 9:50)
- Be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
- Honor one another (Romans 12:10)
- Live harmoniously with one another (Romans 12:16; 1 Peter 3:8)
- Accept one another as Christ accepted you (Romans 15:7)
- Teach and instruct one another (Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16)
- Have equal care for one another without division (I Corinthians 12:25)
- Show warm and visible affection for one another (I Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12; Romans 16:16; 1 Peter 5:14)
- Serve one another (John 13:14; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10)
- Carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
- Be patient, forbearing with one another. (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13)
- Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13)
- Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19)
- Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)
- Humbly consider one another above yourself (Philippians 2:3; 1 Peter 5:5)
- Admonish one another (Colossians 3:16)
- Encourage one another (I Thessalonians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians5:11; Hebrews 10:25, 3:13)
- Spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24)
- Confess sins to one another (James 5:16)
- Pray for one another (James 5:16)
- Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (I Peter 4:9)
- Destroy one another Galatians 5:15)
- Be conceited, provoking and envying one another (Galatians 5:26)
- Lie to one another (Colossians 3:9)
- Slander one another (James 4:11)
- Grumble against one another (James 5:9)
- Judge one another (Romans 14:13)
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