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The meaning of true love

Modified: Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2008

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. For those of you who haven’t done anything nice for your significant friend or loved one, now is probably a good time to get a card, candy, flowers, diamonds (?) or whatever you can afford and feel would be an appropriate gift for that special person on this special day.

There are many different traditions regarding how Valentine’s Day came about. Perhaps the most prominent involves the reign of Emperor Claudius II, who was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel, as he was known, was having a hard time getting soldiers to join his military and believed that Roman men did not want to leave their families and loved ones. Therefore, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome.

Saint Valentine was a priest in Rome. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples. Saint Valentine was found out and ended up being beaten and beheaded. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February in the year 270.

It is said that Saint Valentine had many young people come to the jail to visit him before his death. They threw flowers and notes up to his window to let him know they believed in love. One of these young people was the daughter of the prison guard. Her father allowed her to visit Saint Valentine, and they became strong friends. On the day he was to die, Saint Valentine left a little note for her signed “Love from your Valentine.”

Today the concept of love has many interpretations. My dad told me about a friend of his who had an automobile that was kept in pristine condition. Its owner was always washing and waxing it. One day the owner had a date. He and his girlfriend were in an automobile accident and when he realized what had happened, the owner could think only of his auto and nothing about the physical condition of the woman.

In 1970 the movie “Love Story” with Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal coined the phrase: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” This would be true if each of us wouldn’t think so frequently about our own needs and desires in preference to those of other people, especially our loved ones. John Lennon is quoted as saying: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry every 15 minutes.”

The Bible helps to set us straight on the meaning of love, for “God is love.” (I John 4:8). The many aspects of true love are provided in the Bible’s love chapter - I Corinthians chapter 13. Among the many traits listed - true love suffers long and is kind, it does not seek its own, it is not puffed up and it bears and believes all things.

There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Although there have been many martyrs through the centuries, there is no greater example than God, who sent his son Jesus to die for each of us who have sinned against him (Romans 5:8). This is true, unconditional love - John 3:16.

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