February 2017


It has been nice, at least for me, to take a month to focus on love. It is a powerful thing, this love. I’m reminded of a story I heard years ago: a boy and his little sister were overheard as they conversed in their back yard.

Boy: “You’re nothing but a dummy. Dummy, Dummy, Dummy.”

Silence.

Boy: “You’re nothing but a stupid dummy. Stupid Dummy, Stupid Dummy, Stupid Dummy.”

Silence.

Boy, yet again: “You’re nothing but a ignorant stupid dummy. Ignorant Stupid Dummy, Ignorant Stupid Dummy, Ignorant Stupid Dummy.”

Girl: “Johnny.”

Boy: “What!”

Girl: “I love you.”

God’s love is like that: there for us, even when we revile Him, and often leaving us speechless. Isn’t love grand?

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Some of the simplest concepts are the most profound. We teach our children a simple song in Sunday school settings. The premise is really easy to learn. The song title is “Praise Him All Ye Little Children” and each succeeding verse simply changes one word to advance the song. As the title suggests, we praise Him. Then the song admonishes us to love, and then to serve, Him. And we do all of this because “God is love.”

We know that God loves us. How can we respond appropriately? We love Him. And how can our love be made evident in our lives? We offer praise to Him from the heart, and let that praise spill over into our lives as we serve Him by our obedience to Him.

Since our focus is on love this month, sing the second verse with me:

Love Him, love Him all ye little children

God is love, God is love;

Love Him, love Him all ye little children

God is love, God is love.

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Jesus, John 14:23

Greeting card manufacturers, candy makers, florists, and jewelers. What do these people have in common? At this time of year, our go to answer would probably be “Valentine’s Day.” Some of the more argumentative among us might claim that St. Valentine’s Day was created by the card and candy industry to make more sales, but that misses the point of the celebration altogether. Inspired by the legend of a third century martyr (Valentinus) who taught of the love of God. St. Valentine has since been a symbol for and inspiration of love.

At this time of year, we like to remind each other of our feelings of love and goodwill. We send special gifts and messages signed with the legendary greeting “From Your Valentine.” The greatest valentine or love letter ever sent was the one that God sent because He loved the world that He had created, He loved the people who had rejected Him through sin and disobedience. That valentine bore the cloak of Jesus of Nazareth, and He brought with Him the greatest love as well as the grandest reason to celebrate love that ever was—God’s everlasting, redeeming, unrelenting, irreplaceable Love.

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.”  — John 3:16, The Message

From time to time I will hear someone say, “It’s all good.” In my observation, the person quoting this euphemism has just experienced something that either didn’t go as planned, turned out badly, or disappointed in some significant way. In which case, the meaning of the quip is: I’ll cope, we can get through this, or at least nobody was hurt badly.

The truth that Christ-followers can hold onto though is that even when it’s not all good, goodness can still prevail. And that happens because of Christ and His influence in life. No longer does the believer have to put on a brave face in the midst of a crisis, or “buck up and take it like a man.” We will weather storms; we will encounter some situations which can never fall into the “good” category. At the end of the day there is an assurance that, whether the good comes, or the bad, Christ makes of it all a beauty that is really good—and not just a platitude.

 “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.” Psalm 73:1