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Agape: Love is Sacrifice

 

Valentine’s Day on February the 14th is recognized worldwide as a day of “love” and gift-giving to loved ones such as a spouse, a crush, or just a friendly gesture of giving a thoughtful card to a close pal. It could be chocolates, poetry, or just giving someone a little extra time although we should all have thankful and giving hearts year-round. Although the origins of this well-known and celebrated holiday are a mystery, the clear theme is “love” and relationship. This holiday is believed to be derived from a pagan celebration, just like Christmas or Easter. “Lupercalia” was a pagan festival designed as most were to ward off evil spirits. These pagans sure do have a lot of warding off to do it seems! More specifically, this celebration was to ward off infertility and was marked by violence, spontaneous matchmaking, and animal sacrifice. While they tried to make everything sacred, even sex, they did the opposite with these actions by encouraging this chaotic lust-filled festival every February the 15th in ancient times. Over time, the practices in the ritual were performed with more modesty but this was nothing but madness because the pagans were surrendering to the lusts of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-21 warns–”Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This sounds like everything the pagans represented and this is NOT love.

 

 

The other inspiration behind Valentine’s Day was born in the Catholic Church. Valentine or Valentinus was a name that belonged to three different saints; all three were martyred. All three were beheaded for defying the orders of the Roman Emperor Claudius II. One of the saints secretly married young soldiers and their lovers despite the commands from the emperor for the soldiers to be celibate and going as far as to outlaw marriage so they would not be distracted by their wives and families in times of war. Is this love? A Martyr is someone who dies for what they believe in; it is a sacrifice for someone to surrender everything including their life to stand for their values and faith. These are the saints that suffer persecution just as Jesus did for sharing what they believe. There are Christians being beheaded in the Middle east for their belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God. This is true love for Father God. In 1 John 4:19–” We love him, because he first loved us.” Yahweh is our first love, for he taught us the meaning of “agape” love through John 3:16–” For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” He sent his ONLY Son to be hung on a cross, it is by the Blood of the Lamb that the debt of our sins are paid and we are no longer bound by death (sin); For He loves us unconditionally and his blood has washed us clean. Would you die for Him who died for you?

 

 

In Revelation 2:10 a message of victory is revealed–” Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The crown of life is awarded to the overcomers; this word means “bravery” in Hebrew, among a few other adjectives relating to righteousness. But it is not by our righteousness that we find strength and bravado. Isaiah 61:10 proclaims–” I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with jewels.” This is a portrait of marriage in heaven. The church is the Body of Christ, and the body is us. We are the bride of Christ. In Ephesians 5:25-28 the same kind of devotion is expected in the bonds of earthly marriage–”Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.” This is an expression of true love. This is a sacred covenant between husband and wife but also between mankind and God.

 

 

When you are buying a cute heart-shaped box of chocolates or writing a coupon for a free foot massage for your spouse, think about the true meaning behind this holiday. It is a sweet gesture to buy someone flowers or devote more time to your friends and family, it is also a fun holiday to celebrate with parties, games, and sweets. Love is something to cherish and celebrate! While we pass out the candy hearts never forget 1 Corinthians 13:4-8–” Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” God is love.

 

 

 

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