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Christian Love . . .

Christian Love . . .
February, the year's shortest month . . . in mid-winter and by tradition, is the month of LOVE.  This month is noted for the observance of Saint Valentine's Day on the 14th.  Several legends exist around this day, but in general, this day replaced Lupercalia, a pagan bloody charged celebration with animal sacrifices and random matchmaking of couples.  
A Christian replacement was led by a man named Valentine in the 3rd century A.D. and later named a Saint by the Catholic Church.  One of three legends is that while in prison for assisting persecuted Christians and secretly marrying Christian couples in love, Valentine tried converting the Roman Emperor Claudius II to Christianity . . . and for that he was beheaded [www.history.com].
Love undergirds the New Testament message around the Greek term agape.  In my NIV Bible Version of the N.T., love occurs 261 times; 39 times in John's gospel, 27 times in his first epistle, and is the sole chapter topic of the Apostle Paul's 1 Corinthians 13.  
Romance leads to marriage, while love of family (storge Gk) and love for friends (philia Gk) bind us to each other.  Agape is that selfless universal love that is so broad we must even love our enemies; not with hugs and kisses, but with care and concern (see Matthew 5:44 and Luke 6:27).
Across the people spectrum, love abides.  It is given . . . and it is received.  Love is expressed in language . . . and in action.  We can either offer to, or receive love from, others as encouragement or in meeting physical needs.  Friendships warm our days . . . and families provide security.
Jesus provided the ultimate love for all when He paid the price for our sins through His sacrificial death on the cross.  His sinless life was laid down amid hate and abuse . . . as a record that on judgment day when we appear before the throne, if we had accepted Him as Lord of our life, we could enter into His glorious presence for eternity.
"And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthian 13:13 (NIV)  
Ray Newbold
Professor of Forestry, (Ret.), Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, Louisiana
Writer, OPEN WINDOWS; Deacon--FBC, Ruston; Mission Work: Mexico
eThoughts Team--Extended Week-day Free Devotionals -- Vol. X, No. 02-03RN -- Archived
Dr. Nelda Hughes Spinks, Professor Emerita -- Editor and Publisher
Scripture marked (NIV) is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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