Where Love Begins

Where Love Begins
“Valentine’s Day,” “Single’s Awareness Day,” “Flowers, Candy and Gifts Day”—however you celebrate or label it, there is one thing for certain: you cannot run away from February the fourteenth.

Every year, it comes around like clockwork. To some, it is anticipated with excitement but to others, it comes begrudgingly. Couples are everywhere, love is in the air, and little heart shapes and cupid stickers are plastered on every surface. To put this into perspective, here are some things you may not know about this “lovely” holiday.

About eight billion candy hearts will be produced this year. About one billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in the U.S. each year. Approximately 189 million stems of roses are sold in the United States on Valentine’s Day. And in case you were wondering, 15% percent of U.S. women sent themselves flowers today.

Aside from the world’s explanation of love, the Bible gives a unique description of the term in Matthew 22:39 when it proclaims to love your neighbor as yourself. Does this mean you have to appreciate and love even yourself? It absolutely does.

Believe it or not, the way you view the person in the mirror reflects your relationship with those around you. Do you love the person God created you to be, or are you constantly trying to change something or become something you are not? What is love, really? True love is unashamed and genuine. It would not seek to change things to make them authentic.

A man who was well-known for bleeding the emotions of love onto a page, William Shakespeare, wrote “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.…” If it is real, it strips away any thought of trying to improve what is already beautiful. No one is perfect, but love is still love in spite of shortcomings and insecurities. This type of love is quite unique. By no means am I saying you should be self-consumed or haughty in your behavior, but you should simply love and respect the temple with which God has entrusted you. Once you do this, you will begin to appreciate others in their entirety as well.

Let’s make one thing crystal clear; the word “neighbor” in Matthew 22:39 is not simply a call to love the person in the house right next to yours. Among other definitions, a neighbor can be described as “any person in need of one’s help or kindness.” It is the woman you see every morning in the coffee shop, the man you see waiting tables. This sincere love even applies to that criminal behind bars. Yes, love is essential, but it starts with you. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your definition of love by taking some time to realize how fearfully and wonderfully made you really are. I guarantee your perspective will change.

If you’re having trouble doing this, allow me to remind you of the cross. The greatest love story ever told happened out of relentless, true love. He did not pick and choose for whom to die or whom to love. Jesus died for your neighbor who just can’t seem to get his life together just as much as He died for you. Remember this, and start being real with yourself. This kind of love has many different aspects. Assess the temple God entrusted to you. How do you treat it? Are you respecting it in your actions and your outward appearance? Do you have a negative or a positive sense of self-worth?

This Valentine’s Day, give the gift of uncompromising love, and start by appreciating the person you are. This will help shape the way you love the people around you, and it will allow you to love and be loved the way we were designed.

It starts with love. It starts inside. Are you living 22:39?

Rachel Thorne was born in Florida and has lived in many places throughout the United States. She is currently attending Urshan College, formerly known as Gateway College of Evangelism. She wants to make a difference and change her world. Rachel is actively seeking the will of God for her life and is willing to do whatever He has for her.

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