February is the month that we honor love. We plan special meals, buy flowers, and give away candy to those we cherish. When I taught elementary school, February meant coloring hearts, passing out Valentine cards and having class parties. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent $23.9 billion last year on Valentine gifts for spouses, friends, pets, and more. It was the second-highest year on record. Love is definitely big business!

But what is love? Merriam-Webster dictionary lists several definitions. As a noun, love is a “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties” and “affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interest.” As a verb, love means “to hold dear, cherish.”

An entire chapter in the Bible is written by the Apostle Paul about love. 1 Corinthians 13, verse 4 says, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” If this verse sounds familiar, you probably heard it read aloud at a wedding ceremony. The Apostle Paul reminds the Christian believers in Corinth of their call to love one another and does so by giving them a detailed description of what this love looks like.

1 Corinthians 13 from the New International Version reads: “If you speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If you have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

“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 trust, always hopes, always perseveres.”

“Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

This Valentine’s Day, invite the One who loves you now and forever into your heart (John 3:16). God’s love for you will never change, never waiver, and never leave you. Share this hope with someone you love today.

Ellen Woitalla is worship director and women’s ministry leader at the Exeter Church of the Nazarene. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of area churches. 

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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