One of our friends recently came across this Valentine she made as a second grader. She has been the target of several evil abusers in her life (now free and wise, thankfully), and she reflected on what this heart-filled creation says about her concept of love back then. She commented:
That innocent child valentine craft is a picture of what was going to happen to me during my life…here comes the enemy in disguise as the finest Christian saint to dupe me into marriage and bondage and abuse….The false gospel of ‘must love everyone’ was well at work on me as a child. It is shocking for me to see this now.
I suppose that a large part of this distortion of love concerns this issue of the “heart.” Valentines. Hearts. Heart-shaped candies. Heart-shaped cakes and cards and all other sorts of cardio shapes. But these ideas focus on emotions and feelings, leaving out another very crucial element of love:
1Jn 2:4-5 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, (5) but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
Love, as you see here, is far more than emotion. To love someone is to ACT with love toward them. It is to be selfless and giving. Anyone who claims to love God, for instance, but who refuses to obey Him is a liar. That is not love.
This is what Jesus meant when He said that we will know them by their fruits. Words are cheap. Valentine cards are cheap. But what is a person’s attitude and behavior toward us – there is the tell-tale fruit. Is it rotten or healthy? Unfortunately most children are never taught these vital truths, and grow up having to suffer as a result.
In other words, love is a VERB.
It’s almost as if every message we’ve ever heard about being good to others is exaclty what Satan uses (through other people) to crush us. Instead of messages that start with
“You should…” the messages should start with
“This is what ___________ looks like and sounds like.”
But even as I write this, there is that segment of people that are really good at “looking and sounding like…” so how DO we protect innocent hearts?! Everything must be learned the hard, painful way?! Ugh!
If nothing else, it would be very helpful for more focus on how JESUS responded to different people. He wasn’t always “nice” and yet he was without sin. That is an important message!
Freedom….. in Him
Yes, this is so very true.
Have seen people confuse control, and/or abundance of material possessions, money or gifts with fruit – this couldn’t be further from it. I used to cringe at Valentine’s Day, it represented a day of confusing “nice” comments or gestures knowing that coming from them was nothing at all representative of who I lived with on a day-to-day basis – so this day was only one more day of such a truly duplicitous grind. Then I realized the chaos and confusion in living with such evil was their fruit, and it would not change. Now, fast forward years after escaping, and when I see the valentine hearts and this that and the other on this day and I smile – and know I didn’t learn this from my parents, church, etc. or experience it in the hellacious context of marriage I experienced, but I did and do experience true love in Christ – his attitude and treatment has never wavered towards us, it is an absolute relationship, he will always be exactly who he is towards us.