We all love loving the people who matter to us, and Valentine's Day is one of the times we typically show love to the person we care most for.
Romantic love is good and should be celebrated, yet it is nothing compared to the undying, everlasting, eternal, all-encompassing love that our heavenly Father has for us, His children.
Here in Cadaniño , we work with vulnerable children who, like children everywhere, long to be loved.
At the beginning of every year, when we start classes with the students who attend our after-school programs, we make sure to teach and reinforce the understanding of who God is. A Heavenly Father who is all good, all-loving, all-powerful and has a view of eternity.
In Guatemala, as in many Latin American countries, Valentine's Day, or Día del Cariño, is more than just a romantic holiday for those in relationships. It extends to showing your friends, family, and those you care about that you love them.
During our Bible classes this month, we focused specifically on the goodness of God and the love of God. Here are a few of the key points we are working through.
1) We love each other because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:19
The love we have for others doesn't come from ourselves.
Like so many things, it is a reflection of the Love that God has for us. But, where our love is imperfect, His is perfect; where our love is partial, His is impartial; where our love fails and falls short, His is unlimited and never-ending; where our feelings of love can die out, His is eternal.
Understanding where our love for others comes from, in what ways it is the same as our love, and in what ways it is different, is essential if we are going to understand the ultimate love that led to God sending His Son to die on the cross to pay the price of our sins.
2) We are to show love to everyone
Matthew 5:43, 44 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,"
Showing love to those you care about can be easy. Showing Love to your neighbors and those you encounter can be more challenging yet is still doable. But showing love to your enemies, those who hate you, despise you, and persecute you, that is a whole other ball game.
It's how people know us as followers of Christ. - John 13:35 "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
3) It's what should set us apart as followers of the teachings of Christ
In this day and age, it seems we are more polarized with our fellow men than ever before. It's so easy to post a snarky comment or meme on social media, demonstrating our differences with those we disagree with. It is all the more important to be known for our love.
If someone had to describe who you were, would the traits they share about you describe your politics or your faith?
If we are defined more by what we are against than what we are for, if we are quicker to find fault with someone, to criticize them when they are wrong, to proclaim how right we are on a topic, instead of being known for the love that we have for others, then we are probably falling short of what Jesus asks of us.
4) Love is a verb. - John 13:34
"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another."
Love is more than a feeling, It's a verb. Love is something we do.
Living out the Love of God through our actions to others is a reflection of the love of God.
We know from scripture that if we see someone who is hungry, thirsty, or in need, and all we do is say a blessing for them and send them on their way, we are falling short. (James 2:16)
1 John 3:18 tells us, "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." We have to move beyond giving loving words to showing loving deeds.
When someone sees a tangible demonstration from another person, it can go a long way towards helping them understand the sometimes intangible, unseen love God has for them
5) Our attitude is a reflection of our love. - 1 Corinthians 13
1 Corinthians 13 is often referred to as "the love chapter," and it challenges us to reflect on our attitudes about this about the love that we should have.
"Love is patient and kind; Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
The importance of our love actions must be matched by the truth of loving attitudes. We cannot show love through our actions only to have the full impact fall short because of our unloving attitudes.
If we can combine the power of loving actions with loving attitudes, we come one step closer to helping people understand the fullness of the true Love of God.
These are just a few of the ways we are working with those we serve to help them understand about the love of God so they can live it out in their lives.
How are you doing living out God’s love in your life?