Happy Valentinus Day
Valentine’s Day has a mysterious origin. One potential origin involves a priest named Valentinus during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius who secretly disobeyed the Emperor. Because Claudius believed that single soldiers made better soldiers, he outlawed young men getting married. Valentinus began secretly performing weddings for young couples under to cover of darkness and out of sight from watchful eyes. Valentinus because known as the priest of love. Eventually he was caught and killed for daring to defy the Emperor.
Another possible origin of Valentine’s Day involves another Roman, also named Valentinus, who was arrested for helping persecuted Christians. After being caught, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter who visited him on a regular basis in prison. Before his death, we wrote her a letter and signed it by saying, “From your Valentinus.” It’s almost identical to the popular Valentine phrase used today.
No one knows which story is the true origin of Valentine’s Day. However, this truth remains: Expressing love can be costly. If you think about it, how did Jesus express his love for us? And at what cost?
Not all of us are married or in a romantic relationship but we all have people in our life that we love. Love is from God. He is the author of it. God modeled love in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave is one and only Son…” God’s love for us had a very high price – the death of Jesus.
Genuine love today is rare and hard to find. Why? Because loving someone goes against our very nature. What is this nature? Selfishness. We are, by nature, very selfish individuals. Most people believe that the opposite of love is hate. It is not. Hate is a unhealthy emotion. The opposite of love is not hate but selfishness.
After their one year anniversary, I separately asked my daughter, Ashley, and her husband, Nate, what was the biggest lesson they learned in their first year of marriage. They each said, “I didn’t realize how selfish I am!” Knowing this is extremely helpful to ones marriage.
The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:5, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset of Christ Jesus.” He goes on to explain that Jesus didn’t use his rightful position as God for His advantage while here on planet earth. Instead, Jesus made himself a servant for mankind; even dying on the cross for our salvation. Jesus is the greatest example of love! He is our example of how to love in every one of our relationships.
With that in mind, Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition and vain conceit.” This little verse tackles two dangerous mindsets. Selfish ambition = “I WANT” and vain conceit = “I DESERVE.”
There is a famous hymn sung by the Spice Girls with a chorus that says, “Let me tell you what I want, what I really really want!”
This mindset will kill any relationship! I’ve often said, “The leading cause of death in a relationship is selfishness.” When we are selfish, we suck the life out of those we love, because we take, take, take, for our own selfish pleasures. Our needs are never fully met and our satisfaction remains unfulfilled. If you want to kill off a friendship or a marriage, keep having a Let me tell you what I WANT what I really really WANT mentality.
God has given all of us natural desires for love, respect, cherished, appreciated, accepted, intimacy, understood, listened to, etc. However, when I desire turns to I deserve, it leads to ungratefulness.
Why? Because if you meet what I deserve, you remain at a zero baseline. You receive no credit or bonus points for meeting what I deserve. You are still at zero. Therefore, I am not grateful for receiving what I believe I already deserved to be coming my way. As a result, one trying to please you will begin to feel, “I can never please him” or “I can never win with her.”
My wife, Candy, always desires to be warm. Anytime the temperature gets below 70 degrees, she isn’t cold, she’s “freezing!” Several years ago I remodeled our master bathroom. While under construction Candy left for the east coast to attend her sister’s wedding. When she came home, Candy was surprised to find our new bathroom floor had heated tiles. Because I met a “desire” she was extremely grateful, thankful, and I am still receiving husband points to this day! One the other hand, if she had a “I Deserve” mindset, she could have easily responded, “It’s about time! I was wondering when you would ever get around to doing that!” Such a different response.
An “I deserve” marriage ends up being a contract marriage. “You owe me” and “I’ll do for you if you do for me!” WIth a contract marriage, the first thing to go is kindness. Then romance. Then intimacy. Then the marriage. An “I deserve” mentality is selfishness on steroids.
The Bible does not teach a contract marriage but rather a covenant marriage built on sacrifice and serving. For the record, after 32 years of marriage, I am not committed to my marriage. Instead, I am committed to Candy. I could go out and get another marriage but I cannot find another Candy.
With a “you owe me” mindset, you can easily justify “Well, they just were not a good wife or husband.” You will then get another marriage and quickly find it looking similar to the last one.
Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day to express your love to those around you. However, it shouldn’t be the only day you do this. Be like one of the Valentinus boys and make sure your love is selfless and sacrificial.