February 9, 1953
Someone tells the story of a young boy who, for some reason, did not have any friends at school, perhaps he was handicapped. In any case, when Valentines’ day rolled around, he insisted on making and giving valentines to his classmates. His mother was concerned for his feelings because she thought he may not receive any in return.
On Valentine’s Day, the little fellow went to school with his package of cards. That afternoon, she watched him come up the front sidewalk, head down, muttering to himself. As he came closer, she could hear him say, “Not one, not even one...”
It seems her fears had been realized. As she prepared to console him, she was startled when he looked up at her, face radiant, and said, “Not one, I didn’t miss one, everyone got a card.”
Perhaps love is the most misunderstood human capacity. Most of us realize that physical attraction is most commonly mistaken for love, but we can also confuse love with admiration or hero-worship. Furthermore, deep desires for financial or emotional security can obscure our thinking to the point we are convinced we “love” someone that seems to be able to meet those needs. Loneliness, pity, fear or other emotions can also cloud our judgment. We can even think we love someone who is either unusually kind or helpful toward us or appears to need and appreciate us.
With some of these misconceptions in mind, it appears this thing we call love usually depends a great deal on what the other person does or is. If they somehow meet a need we have or make us feel good, or are attractive and arouse our desires, we call it “love.” Very few understand love as that little boy.
The Bible tells us that God loves us perfectly. When our lives are comfortable and nothing is happening out of our control, we may believe it. Yet whenever a senseless “act of God” happens, the normal human response is grave doubts concerning His love. As in human relationships, we gauge how much God loves by how comfortable or how delighted He allows us to feel.
Many times our response toward Him is the same. That is, we love Him when He is good to us, but find our passion for God cools again when life is not as we hoped or expected. A well-known Christian singer tells of visiting a country where the people were not well off. She was amazed how these people praised God yet “they had nothing.” She finally realized that they loved God for who He is, not for what He did for them.
As I think about that, it seems that perfect love is like that and it goes both ways. That is, we are to love Him “with all our heart and soul and mind and strength,” not just for the comforts He gives us but for who He is – our God who is totally worthy of all our adoration. We are able to do that only as we realize that “He first loved us” and demonstrated it by sending His Son to die for us.
God’s love for us certainly does not depend on what we do for Him. He is complete in Himself and needs nothing from us. He simply loves us for who we are – people that He created, people that He desires will spend eternity with Him. It is a love illustrated by a little boy with a stack of valentines – a love that reaches out to all and whose greatest desire is that not one misses out, not even one.