Today is Valentine’s Day a day where men all over the country and the world will spend a lot of money on their wives if they are married or their girlfriends if they aren’t. Valentine’s Day is, to put it mildly, a day where love is commercialized. This shouldn’t surprise us though as people seek love and value in pornography, sex, entertainment, sports, and the list goes on and on.
In my teenage years, I turned a good gift the Lord gave me in golf into a love affair. Instead of golf being used for the glory of Christ it became a huge giant idol in my life where I would spend all my time going to the golf course in the golfing community, I lived in the Greater Seattle area.
You see false love promises security, pleasure, and happiness but ends up delivering nothing of the sort. Instead, the end result of false love is untrained and unconstrained desire. As I think of what Valentines Day means to me now twelve years into marriage, I’m horrified by what I used to think of love as a teenager. Instead of seeing the opposite sex as image bearers and daughters of Christ as joint-heirs in Christ, I often saw them as objects of pleasure as a teenager.
False Love Promises Much but Never Delivers
We buy chocolates, roses, and gifts every year for our spouse. What I’ve learned in twelve years of marriage is that my wife cares little about the gifts. She could do without them in fact if we have little money and she’s okay with that. But what she wants more than gifts is me. She wants my uninterrupted time. She wants my eyeballs when we’re out on a date. She wants my undivided attention and my heart set and focused on her when we are together. She wants to hear my heart and to know what I’m struggling with, along with what encourages me. These are things women value from their man more than their presents. No, I’m not making a case against getting your spouse a gift, men, I’m merely saying what your wife ultimately wants is you and your undivided attention. And by the way, I do get my wife a gift otherwise I’m a dead duck.
In the famous passage in Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon tells us about the vanity of vanities and the pursuit of pleasure outside of the Lord. In Psalm 16:11 the Psalmist David says that there are pleasures always in the Lord. He says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
In a few days on February 18th, my wife and I will celebrate twelve years of marriage. Our marriage especially the first few years was particularly difficult as we are both, stubborn. Perhaps you can identify with that. When you put two stubborn people in a marriage, even as Christians it is a recipe for the sanctification of them both. The Lord used the first few years of marriage in my life to do some significant humbling in me. I can look back now twelve years later at the outset of our marriage thinking I knew a lot about marriage because I read about it in a marriage book, which I did, but I did not know it truly. I knew the right information and the answers to the questions couples struggled with, but I did not possess the experience that backed up that knowledge.
For you, perhaps you’ve read the books, and you can check that box off when it comes to relationships, theology, literature, or some other field of knowledge. The truth is we can’t know all the answers even in our field. Within fields, there are specialties focused on particular aspects of knowledge. In Psalm 16:11 the Psalmist tells us that the Lord “makes known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
You cannot possibly plumb the depths of God. He is infinite, and you are finite. He is majestic in splendor, and you are but a speck even if you are the apple of His eye, which you are. With the Lord, there is joy and pleasure always and the path of a righteousness life rooted in Christ alone.
In the world, false pleasure and false joy abound. Getting presents for your spouse is great. Taking your spouse out on Valentines Day is appreciated. But make no mistake about it there is something much more significant than Valentines Day on this day and every day. Marriage is not a one day a year event where you shower gifts on your spouse to earn their love. A stable Christian marriage is grounded in the love of God in Christ alone. It is also a covenant relationship between one man and one woman for life under God.
Real Christian Love is Christ-Centered
Real Christian love is first and foremost not self-focused but Christ-focused, and then others focused. So, getting gifts for your spouse and taking them out on this day is good. But if this is the only day that you do that, then you need to repent. True Christian marriage continues and thrives because of first delighting in the Lord and then delighting in your spouse. It finds in your spouse real satisfaction that comes from intimately knowing Christ and then being loved by the one your heart loves first in Jesus and then your spouse.
Valentines Day can be a great day. It can be a joyous day to celebrate love. But it can also be heartbreaking. All around us in our churches are singles who have no one to spend time with or enjoy on this day. It may even remind couples of a loved one they lost and that causes heartache.
Valentines Day is a day full of promise and can be a day full of love even as it’s also a day of heartache. Love is worth fighting for in Christian marriage. It’s worth continuing to pursue Christ even more. True Christian marriage is not rooted in our spouse’s affection; it is first rooted in Christ. Paul’s point in Ephesians 5 is not to tell men (Ephesians 5:33) they are to love their wives out of duty but out of love for Christ (Ephesians 5:25). All true Christian love begins in the love of God in the finished and sufficient work of Christ which fuels a real love for others.
When we get the order-loving others for the sake of gifts and taking them out wrong, we fail to love and are engaging in false love. Satan would love to entrap, ensnare and deceive the people of God to believe that false love is all there is. But at the right time, God died for the ungodly Paul says in Romans 5:6. That’s you and me. At just the right time, Jesus died (Romans 5:6-8). He said His work is finished (John 19:30). Real love was demonstrated in the bloody death of Christ. But the story didn’t end at the bloody death of Jesus as He was buried, and rose again, and now is ascended where He is presently our High Priest, Intercessor and the Mediator of the New Covenant. Even so, we also have a soon returning Lord Jesus.
True love is not only personified in the finished and sufficient work of Christ but also in the Person of Christ. He showed love to the outcasts and the stranger. He reached out to people across demographics and people groups. The same is true today. Real love for God is demonstrated in love for others. Jesus repeatedly told us that we are to love Him and love others (Matthew 22:37-40). He did so because He sees and knows the human condition and the human heart. He also knows that what we crave we will pursue and how what we pursue will shape our lives resulting in us finding our identity in those things.
The Grace of God and Valentine’s Day
You and I need Christ. We need not only the grace of God for salvation. We need the grace of God for transformation in our lives and to persevere in the Christian life. We need the grace of God for when we sin in our marriages and in relationship(s) with one another.
So today wherever you are—whether Valentines Day is a happy day for you or whether it’s a sad day because you’ve lost a spouse, or you are having a hard time in your marriage take heart! The Lord Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:5).
Valentine’s Day is a great day as far as it goes, but there is more love in Christ alone than in any one day. False love is vanity and grasping for the wind. In the Lord Jesus, there is joy, pleasure, a new identity, meaning, and purpose forever. Ground your lives in the love of God in Christ alone and while you may be disappointed in people you will never be disappointed in a God who will never fail you, never disappoint you, and will never abandon you, since He is a God of love (1 John 4:7-8) who has fully revealed Himself as fully God and fully man in Christ alone. Dear Christian friend, please look to Jesus the author and finisher of your faith on Valentines and always after. While you are at it trust Him, look at His beauty, and know His all-sufficient grace.