This is My command: love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12

Valentine’s Day is this Wednesday. A special day when love is in the air. A fun day for kids to make and exchange valentines and eat heart-shaped cookies. A great date night for Mom and Dad. A time for chocolates and flowers and mushy cards. But what is Valentine’s Day really all about? And how did it get its start? I’ve been looking into that and here’s what I’ve learned.

Valentine was a real person who lived in Rome in the third century. He was a medical doctor who later became a priest in the early Christian church. There is a lot of myth and mystery surrounding his life. One of the most frequently repeated stories is that he performed secret Christian marriages, going against Claudius, the Roman emperor, whom had made it illegal for young men to wed. Others say that he was so beloved by the children in his community and they would send notes to him. Another popular story is that, after his arrest and imprisonment, Valentine and his jailer became friends. He became very fond of the jailer’s young daughter and would send her notes, signing them, “From your Valentine.” Eventually, Valentine was executed for his Christian faith.

So how can we follow Valentine’s example and show God’s love to one another this Valentine’s Day? Here are some special ways that God wants us to love.

God wants us to love Him. We can show our love for God by praying together, reading the Bible together and simply telling God that we love Him in all our prayers!

God wants us to love ourselves. Explain to your kids that God made us in His own image. He loves us and wants us to take care of our bodies. This is a way we can show our love for Him. Ask the kids for ideas about ways to care for themselves. You might begin the conversation by talking about eating healthy food, exercising, drinking plenty of water and getting enough rest.
God wants us to love our families. Family is where it all begins. This is where kids learn the basic life lessons that will mold their futures. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 together and talk about what each statement means to your family. Lead dinnertime conversations about how each point can be applied at home. For example, “How can we be patient with one another?” “How can we be kind?”

God wants us to love our friends. Put out the paper and crayons, doilies and glue and encourage the kids to make Valentines cards to give to their friends. Tell them God wants us to love one another, so we always need to be looking for ways to show our friends that we love them. Ask for their ideas about loving things they can do for friends at school, at church, in sports activities and at home.

God wants us to love our neighbors. Look around your neighborhood. Is there an elderly couple or a single person who might be lonely? What can you do, as a family, to be good neighbors? Maybe you can bake and take over a plate of cookies. The kids might make homemade Valentine cards or you can invite them for a lunch or dinner at your house. Ask them if your family can clean up their yard or plant some flowers or do other chores to help them around the house. Continue this service project beyond Valentine’s Day to show love to your neighbors all year round

And, now, for the hardest one. God wants us to love our enemies. Ooooh, that’s not easy even for adults. So pray in earnest about this and lead your kids to do the same. Talk together about that kid at school who has been picking on yours and pray together for him. Remind your kids that God loves all of us – even bullies. Help your kids forgive those who have been unkind to them. Tell them about ways you have forgiven people through your life and lead them in learning to love their enemies.

However you choose to celebrate this special time, I wish each of you a very Happy Valentine’s Day filled with love and joy … and maybe a little chocolate!

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