February is considered to the “love” month. “The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his 1375 poem “Parliament of Foules.” In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America (History.com).” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent (by mail and via the Internet) each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year, after Christmas.
Today, turn on the television, radio or go to the internet and we are bombarded with ads about love. Each of these exhorting you to buy this product or service. Many of these ads targeting our emotional connection using phrases like: “Show your love with a gift of ____________” or
“When you really want to say, “I love you.”
In 2003, Jennifer Lopez released “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” but it seems that she may have miscalculated. In Valentine’s Day 2022, Americans will spend an estimated $23.9B (National Retail Federation, 2022) expressing their love. The “commercialization” of love is one reason that we seem to have forgotten that love exists, and is experienced, in many forms. It isn’t that we shouldn’t express our love for one another; perhaps the question should be: Is buying a gift the best way to honor and express my love for God and others?
Before you answer, consider this, Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, has calculated the cost of ending hunger in the US at $25 billion. In other words, we could virtually eliminate hunger in America with what we spend on Valentine’s Day. Which do you think is more consistent with the Biblical teaching of love, eliminating hunger in America or buying a gift for my significant other? The truth is, God doesn’t restrict our expression of love; we are only restricted by the boundaries on ourselves. Mother Teresa believed love brings people close to God.
“Every work of love done with a full heart brings people closer to God.” – Mother Teresa
Our love is most meaningful when it meets the needs, not necessarily the expectations, of another. The expression of love involves the acts of “giving and receiving.” According to Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, 1995, not everyone has the same preferences for presents and how they wish for love to be expressed. In his book, he describes how we give and receive love from others:
- Words of Affirmation – Refers to expressing love by using words, the tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). Many people have never learned the tremendous power of verbally affirming each other.
- Acts of Service – Refers to doing things that you know someone else would like you to do, you seek to please by serving them, express your love by doing things for them.
- Receiving Gifts – Refers to the gift itself is a symbol of that thought. The important thing is that you thought about someone, and it is not the thought implanted only in the mind that counts, but the thought actually expressed to secure the gift. and give it as the expression of love.
- Quality Time – Time is a precious commodity, we all have multiple demands on our time, yet each of us has exactly the same hours in a day. We can make the most of those hours by committing them to others, if your partner’s main love language is quality time, she simply loves you, and loves to be sharing together.
- Physical touch – Touch is a basic human need, not just in the bedroom. Nothings speaks more deeply than an appropriate touch. Everyday physical connections such as hand holding, kissing or any kind of reaffirmation of physical contact are highly appreciated.
As you can see, every gift is an expression of love and is an extremely personal experience. The gift will carry a deeper meaning when it connects with the receiver’s need, or better stated “primary love language.” There are many ways that we can express our love using the Five Love Languages, just search for the app or gift guides available on-line.
So, let’s shift our focus to how can we honor God through our gifts. Let’s start with the fact that God doesn’t need anything from us. Acts 17:25 (NOG) tells us: “and He isn’t served by humans as if he needed anything. He gives everyone life, breath ad everything they have.”
How do we honor God through our gifts? By putting them to good use, 1 Peter 4:10 (NLV), says:
“God has given each of you a gift. Use it to help each other. This will show God’s loving-favor.”
We sometimes wait for someone at work, home, or church to take the first step in bringing about change. One of my favorite Mother Teresa quotes is: “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”
Using the 5 Love Languages, for no special reason. give a gift to at least one person at work, home, and church. Remember to match the gift to their “love language.” Drop me a line to tell me, how they reacted and how it made you feel.
It starts with heart. Explore your heart through our Lead Like Jesus Revisited 6-Week Study Guide.