I’ve heard a number of people say that Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and many of these kinds of holidays are just “Hallmark” inventions for commercial purposes. Actually, history reveals that St. Valentine’s Day goes back to Roman paganism and early church history. Much is obscured in legend, but part of the story is attached to Christian martyrdom in the third century. We don’t associate religious persecution with Valentine’s Day, but there is an early connection.
Many centuries later, the day became associated with romantic love. (However, you have to admit, if someone died as a martyr for Christ, then that’s the ultimate gift of love.) According to History.com, “The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. (The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.)”
The love celebrated now on this day is not restricted to romantic love. This is an opportunity to demonstrate gratitude and loyalty to anyone in our lives – friends, colleagues, classmates, relatives, and neighbors. (You just have to frame your appreciation clearly so no misunderstandings occur!) A thank you card or e-card is appropriate. An oral word of affirmation and appreciation brings encouragement. A symbolic gesture (such as cleaning up the work room) or a simple gift (a good book) chosen appropriately for a particular friend may bring needed cheer.
Any expression of kindness is a blessing. In our last article, we learned what one word for blessing, “makarios,” means. Here’s another Greek word for blessing: “eulogia.” As you can see, from it we derive our English word, “eulogy,” which has unfortunately come to be associated with good words said about someone after he or she dies! To say good and beneficial words to someone is to give a blessing. Sincerely commending someone, observing growth and strengths and God’s hand on a person is a gift of blessing. Saying good words about someone is also a blessing. Through “eulogy” we bless with our words; through “makarios,” we bless with our service.
Isn’t it interesting that when we bless others, we reap blessings ourselves? “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” Jesus said. I suppose the main reason is because giving strengthens our character, making us better people. The giver reaps more than the receiver, but God provides for the receiver through the giver. In the economy of God’s kingdom, blessing others is the coinage of love.
May God richly bless you.
Thank you for the wonderful Valentine greeting. Love. What an awesome gift from our God. Imagine what our world would be like if every follower of Christ strove to love like God does. Would not suicide rates drop because those who feel alone and desperate would have followers of Jesus “who not merely looked out for our own interests but the interests of others.” (Philippians 2)? Would not prisons be ghost towns because we believe in 2nd chances like our God does? Would 17 million children who go hungry in this country have food on the table because we gave like our God does?
You are right, Karen, it is a matter of the heart. May we have hearts that grow to be more like His.