Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter.

On Valentine’s Day we think and talk a lot about love, especially the romantic type. I remember back to when I was in elementary school and we would give Valentine cards to each of our classmates. We’d sign them using numbers, with each letter of the alphabet having a corresponding number. There was usually someone that you maybe had a special affection for, so you would give them an especially nice card. As parents my wife and I used to give our children those little heart-shaped boxes of chocolate candy. As they grew older we found out that they really never liked the candy, but the thought was nice.

Love is often described in terms of feelings. It is wonderful to have those feelings of love for another person. And it’s sure nice to know that someone loves you. We’ve all probably had those flutters on the inside of us when someone tells us that they love us or have done something very special for us. But love is much deeper than just romantic feelings. It’s demonstrated with loving actions toward another person.

I find it interesting that this year Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday both fall on the same day, Wednesday, February 14. Ash Wednesday is officially the first day of the Lenten season of the church, culminating with Holy Week when Jesus was arrested, suffered and died on the Cross for our sins. On the cross is when God demonstrated his love for us. Romans 5:6-8 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die. But God demonstrated his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

How would we describe that love? It’s a love for others seen in sacrificing oneself for the benefit and life of another. John 15:13 puts it this way: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus did that for us, not because we were so worthy, but because he loved us. He demonstrated that by dying on the Cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins. His resurrection from the dead shows us that he conquered sin and death. We are now forgiven when we accept what he did for us on the Cross. We are simply asked to put our faith in Him and accept that gift of salvation and eternal life found in Him (John 3:16).

So this Valentine’s Day enjoy the festivities of the day. Show your affections, give those flowers and candy if that’s your custom. But don’t forget to demonstrate to others the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated for us. Self-sacrificial love is the key to all relationships when you think about it. Thinking of others before you think of yourself. And take some time on Ash Wednesday to remember what Jesus came to do for us. There is no greater love!

Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing [email protected]. 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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