I know that the following passage is one frequently read at weddings and quoted at this time of year. I know, my wife and I had it read at our wedding. But as much as it applies to “eros” love of romance, let’s not forget that the love that Paul writes about goes beyond that:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
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.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes,what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13 NIV
When it comes to any relationship, any time when human meets human, what should rule is love. And it is not a candy heart slogan or a box of chocolates, it is a love that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This applies to our friends and neighbors…and our enemies. So, when it comes to expressing love today, anyone is eligible, not just those who are romantically involved.
Today, St. Valentine’s Day, has been celebrated as a day for “eros” for quite a while. But let’s not forget that at least one of the original Valentines was martyred, not for “eros” love, but for love of enemy (performing weddings for soldiers) and sacrificial love (ministering to persecuted Christians) and was himself imprisoned and executed for it.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 NIV
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NIV
Happy Valentine’s Day!