Love is… is the name of a well-known comic strip created by Kim Casali in the sixties. Originally a series of love notes for Roberto Casali who she later married, they were first published in booklets before being syndicated to newspapers around the world from January 1970 under the pen name Kim. The most famous of these cartoons has the caption “Love is… being able to say you are sorry”. However during the 47 years that the series has been running there have been thousands of captions dealing with all kinds of expressions of love.
Every year, as Valentine’s Day approaches, close to £2 billion are spent on cards, flowers and chocolates as lovers everywhere seek to find an appropriate way to declare their love to each other. Cynics might see this as commercialism on the part of retailers, yet they would be unable to cash in if there wasn’t a real heart felt need to love and be loved.
So how would you define love?
It is hard to find a clearer or more comprehensive definition of love than the one that Paul wrote 2 thousand years ago to the Christians in Corinth. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour 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. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4–8 NIV2011).
Valentine’s Day comes and goes. The chocolates will be eaten, the flowers will wilt and the cards will be thrown away (or possibly stored in a memories drawer!). But what about True Love! The words of Paul are profound. Each of the qualities of love that he defines describe an act of selflessness on the part of the lover towards the beloved. This is costly and sometimes painful. It leaves scope for the lover to be taken for granted. Kim was close when she drew the “Love is… being able to say sorry” cartoon but Paul would go one step further. His cartoon would read “Love is… being able to forgive”.
There is only one person who has consistently been able to offer forgiveness, time after time. That person is Jesus. In him we see perfect love; a love that never fails. What can we do in response to love like that? Firstly we need to reach out and receive it. Every single one of us needs to experience the forgiveness that Christ offers for ourselves. Secondly we need to show that same love towards others. Whether you receive a card from a secret admirer, or chocolates and flowers from a lover this Valentine’s Day there are dozens of people in our lives who will benefit from the unconditional, forgiveness driven love that Paul describes. Love that takes a lifetime to explore and express, a love that lasts forever.
I hope that you have a very Happy Valentine’s Day but more importantly I pray that you will encounter Jesus, His love is… forever!