In honor of Valentine's Day, World Vision's Jonathan Lo reflects on our mandate as Christians to love others the way God loves us.
* * *
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. —1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NIV)
Wait, what? But aren't I supposed to give to the poor? I thought that giving up more made me "more holy."
Let's get back to that in a minute…
When I was 7 years old, my family moved from one Chicago suburb to another. An hour's distance feels like an eternity when you're in the first grade, so I basically entered a new world.
Despite a farewell of consistent play-dates with my best friend, Alex, whose passion for Power Rangers rivaled my own, 1995 was a good year for me. I fell in love -- puppy love.
I'll never forget the girl who stole my heart. She was my first crush. Her name was Annie. She was the nicest, prettiest, and just down-right awesome girl I had ever met at that point. For a shy Chinese-American boy who spoke no English at home and whose self-confidence in the outside world was still developing, it was amazing that she took the effort to get to know me. She was great.
Looking back, I realize that my perception of love at age 7 was only a glimpse of what it is today. I've learned about this guy named Jesus whose love for broken, insecure people like me is extravagant. Fully knowing that we would either hate or deny him, Jesus (God) still sacrificially came into our world to fix us. Wow!
Apparently, God's love is greater than anything we could ever imagine ourselves.
And he calls us to that same kind of love.
Jesus' love is the foundation for everything else we talk about in church: faith, wisdom, sacrifice, etc. Everything else without love just makes a loud noise, like a cymbal or a gong. These items don't do anything meaningful by themselves. Without the context of an orchestra, what use is a gong?
Turns out, even giving to the poor is not beneficial to me if I don't have a foundation of love. Let's be clear, especially since I work on the fundraising side of an organization that does amazing work in developing communities: Scripture doesn't say that the poor don't benefit from my giving. But it does say that I don't gain from my giving. It doesn't make me "more holy."
Because God cares about me, he doesn't just want my "stuff" -- he wants what's best for me. He wants me to have his kind of love: the kind that is better than my feelings in first grade, or the pride I get from helping others. He desires a fully redeemed and relational love with me.
Only then do I gain anything worthwhile.
As we celebrate love this Valentine's Day, pray that God would continually transform your heart into one with His love.
Show love tangibly by sponsoring a child in need. The best way to change the lives of children is to change the world in which they live. And the best way to change their world is to foster self-sufficiency within their families and communities. This is what World Vision child sponsorship does.
Download our Valentine's Day cards (pdf) to share with your friends. Here's a preview: