I have experienced different forms of Valentine celebrations in my lifetime. In my High School days, we will come to class sometimes before the day, all of us looking forward to our usual Valentine Day tradition. The tradition then was to pick ballot papers that reveal who your Valentine that year would be. Many of us who did not have the courage then to talk to ladies always hoped and prayed that the master orchestrator will orchestrate the ballot to favor you such that the one you have been secretly admiring will turn out to be your Valentine. It usually never worked out. As we grew up, the tradition changed to parties on Valentine Day. Usually, the guys plan the parties and invite the girls. Now it is about making the wife the happiest on Valentine Day. Different seasons, different expressions of Valentine love. Same love, different modes of expression. Along with the day also comes different forms of expectations. Roses, chocolates, sweet messages of love, dinner out, etc. When we cannot express love that genuinely fulfills the expectations, we act them, or we lie our way through them. We have created a vision of an ideal love celebration. Many times, the hopes do not always match the reality. The day comes and goes like any other day, the celebration either ignored, avoided or faked.
While we often say that love is not a feeling, the truth is that love does make us feel good. So many of the actions of love that are shown on a day like Valentine Day often engender a good feeling. The danger here is that we go to great lengths to make people feel good because that is the only feedback that matters to us. You find that Valentine love is many times tailored to get the good feeling. So, while our intention is to show love at Valentine or celebrate love at Valentine, let me just say, many times, and I say many times, Valentine just offers the opportunity to go through the motion, a motion devoid of action. I came across a new Nigerian fad on social media and it did not immediately occur to me what they were trying to get across so I had to investigate it. It turns out the new fad had its origin from an old Preacher who was trying to warn people about the effect of fake love at Valentine. The man will say things like, “I love you” then he will end it by saying “lori iro”. “Lori iro” means “on top of lie” or “it is a lie”. So, it goes like, “I love you” “lori iro”; “you are my chocolate” “lori iro; “you are beautiful” “lori iro”; and so on. It was funny, but it is very true. Valentine love expressed these days is often not the real love; it is not genuine love. It is love just tailored to get you to believe a lie. As children of God, we should not be part of these types of lies being passed as love.
In 1 John 4:7-8 the Bible talks about love in the most apt manner. “Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” How do we as children of God begin to understand this truth? 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 lists all the attributes of love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Wow! So, before we begin to say that common phrase, “I love you”, we really need to check if we mean all of the attributes mentioned above, because it is only when we mean this that we can really say that we love. When we say it just so that we can get someone to feel good, then it is a “lori iro” kind of love. That is not the kind of love we are called to share.
My brothers and sisters, on this Valentine Day, a day we celebrate love, I just want you to remember that we love because our God first loved us. I want you to also remember the attributes of that love as detailed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I want you to remember that God Himself is love, and His love is very different from the kind of love many of us profess. God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not based on feelings or emotions. God’s love does not deceive. God’s love is genuine. God does not love us because we are lovable or because we make Him feel good. God loves us because He is love and He created us to have a loving relationship with Him. When we went astray, He sacrificed His Son to restore that relationship. The least we can do is to love Him in return. When we love God, it becomes easier to love ourselves too and that love, that is based on God’s love, endures, and it is genuine. This is the love we are called to express always. Show some real love to your loved ones today people of God. Happy Valentine’s Day and may you always be able to express godly, genuine love, in Jesus’ name.
February 14, 2021 – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya