Love at All Costs
How much does it cost to say “I love you?” Around this time of year: $197.
According to the National Retail Federation, consumers collectively spent about $27.4 billion on Valentine’s Day this year.
27.4 Billion. How big is that number? Well, if your life lasted 27.4 billion minutes, you would live more than 50,000 years. It’s a big number.
The point is pretty clear. We will go out of our way to spend outlandishly on loved ones to remind them of our love, devotion, and appreciation on Valentine’s Day. In fact, each year, we’re spending more and more – the number above is up 32% from 2019, which holds the previous record for Valentine’s Day spending.
Now, here’s a question. Why do we do this? We are all well aware that flowers, candy, cards, and chocolates are a fraction of the cost nearly every other day of the year. And while there are a few couples we know who manage to abstain from V-Day, the majority jump in headlong. Why?
I think it comes down to three things: Responsibility, expectation, and sacrifice. These are all great things, and while Valentine’s Day uses them for the purpose of profit, it’s good for us to see how they have their fulfillment in Christ.
Responsibility to show love
When you say, “I love you,” you now have a responsibility to show it. Many have heard the (hopefully) fictitious example of a husband who thinks gifts, cards, and flowers are inventions of a capitalistic society and tells his wife often, “I love you” in an unsmiling, monotone, and emotionless voice. When she finally shares her frustration, he is confused. “Don’t I tell you I love you all the time?”
Her frustration is well placed because we have a responsibility to show love, not just talk about it. Valentine’s Day is a reminder to show love – even if you don’t participate in the day itself, it can be a catalyst that reminds you to show love consistently throughout the year.
God set the standard for us here.
Let’s turn to a part of Scripture that isn’t often cited for its demonstration of love – but I think it’s a breathtaking example of God’s love for us.
When you look at Genesis 3:14, take a look at the very first thing God did after Eve said “The Serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Punishment? Condemnation? No. He shows an amazing love for His precious creation by cursing the serpent and promising a coming Savior … “He shall crush your head,” God says to the already-defeated foe of man.
Adam and Eve had to ultimately face a penalty for their sin, but not before God demonstrated a masterstroke of showing love by promising the coming savior. (This is often referred to as the protoevangelium – the first anticipation of the gospel).
Expectation to receive love
When someone hears “I love you,” an expectation to receive that love is born within them. When a woman has an engagement ring slid onto her finger, she is often giddy with excitement. The excitement of expectation. She will soon be married to the love of her life, and the days between here and there are sure to be full of acts of love and devotion. Each act moves her closer to the fulfillment of expectation – marriage to her husband.
Valentine’s Day has a way of reminding us about the expectations of love. Even if you don’t have a loved one requesting anything on this day, the day itself is a reminder that the promise of love has an expectation to be fulfilled.
God set this standard as well.
After the garden, where He clearly proclaimed His love through the promise of the coming Messiah, there would be an expectation that He would fulfill these claims. And He didn’t disappoint. Bold proclamations from prophets, amazing acts of gracious love toward His people, prophecies that defy explanation outside of Christ – all these things and more demonstrated that the love of His people was always on His mind. The Savior would be coming, and God would never tire of reminding His people of His love for them. They expected it because He promised it, and He delivered beautifully.
Sacrifice that demonstrates love
Ultimately, love is sacrifice. When you love someone, you give up the “I” and move into the “we.” Your life is no longer your own, but it is uniquely tied into someone else. This requires you to sacrifice several things that were part of the “I” life – but you soon find that it’s all worth it to love and be loved in return.
There’s a reason we will dig deep into our pockets and spend $27.4 billion on Valentine’s Day: We are convinced that our loved ones are worth the sacrifice.
God feels the same way about you. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16.
Now, consider how God is thinking of you right now. He fulfilled His promise. He met our every expectation. He sacrificed His one and only Son for you.
Why? Because, He is convinced you are worth the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made.
In comparison, $27.4 billion seems a bit like chump change, doesn’t it? As it should.
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