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Valentine’s Day isn’t Just for Romance

by Sharla Fritz

February 14 is nearly here. Most of us take this occasion to send heart-shaped cards to our husbands, fiancés, or boyfriends. We look forward to getting a box of chocolates or a dozen roses from our sweethearts. Valentine’s Day is for lovers.

Or is it?

St. Valentine was a real person—a priest who lived in Rome and secretly aided Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius II. Around the year 270 Valentine was arrested because helping Christ-followers was illegal. The rest of his story is somewhat of a mystery. One version of his story says that he refused to renounce his faith. Other traditions say that while he was in prison, Claudius took a liking to him—until Valentine tried to convert him. Either version results in the same ending: Claudius had Valentine beheaded—on February 14.

Legend also has it that while Valentine was in jail, he restored the sight of the jailer’s daughter and on the eve of his death he wrote that girl a farewell note, signing it, “From your Valentine.”

So why is February 14 a day we celebrate romantic love?

It seems to me that perhaps this day should honor Valentine in a way more true to his character and actions. The stories we have about this man tell me he lived his life a lot like Jesus did, loving the hurt, the ill, those persecuted and shunned by society. I wonder if he would be saddened to know that I honor his life by buying fancy chocolates for only the people I’m pretty sure will give me some in return.

Of course, we want to treat our husbands, our boyfriends, our children with special love and care. But maybe, this year, we shouldn’t stop there.

In his day, Valentine aided the people who were persecuted for their belief in the one true God. He helped those who sacrificed for Christ. Who do you know that has given sacrificially to Christ and His church? Your pastor? Women in your ministry group who have gone the extra mile? Would they be blessed by a Valentine?

Valentine tried to convert the emperor. Who in your circle of friends and acquaintances doesn’t know Christ yet? Maybe this is the perfect time to show them Christ’s love in a casual, yet meaningful way. Buy them a cup of coffee. Invite them to lunch.

Legend has it that Valentine healed his jailor’s blind daughter and sent her a note. Because of her blindness, this girl probably lived a very sheltered life. Maybe she had few friends. Who do you know that might not get a Valentine card this year? A newly divorced friend? A widow? A single friend still looking for Mr. Right? Consider sending them a Valentine or a short note telling them the impact they have on your life.

God’s Word encourages us with the words, “Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:18 NLT). Our words matter. Our actions matter. By them we can show others a bit of Christ’s love. We can follow in St. Valentine’s footsteps and show love not only to those we love in a romantic way, but those we love because Christ first loved us. We can show love and appreciation to those who have made sacrifices for a life of faith. We can give love to those who might not get a Valentine this year.

Maybe Valentine’s Day is for lovers. But it’s not only for those who love romantically. This year let’s make it a day for loving as Christ loved us.

Sharla Fritz has authored two Bible studies. She loves traveling to women’s groups around the country to talk about God’s transforming power.  Sharla makes her home in the Chicago area where she is also a mother, grandmother, musician, and confirmed chocoholic. You can find her at www.sharlafritz.com