February is often referred to as the “Month of Love” – a month filled with red roses, boxed chocolates, special Valentine’s dinners, and don’t forget Cupid, with his quiver of arrows. And while all of these things are associated with love, do they really express true love? They might … but then again, they might not.
There is a story that comes from the time of Oliver Cromwell in England. A young soldier had been tried in military court and was sentenced to death. He was to be shot at the “ringing of the curfew bell.”
Unbeknownst to anyone, his fiancée climbed up into the bell tower several hours before curfew and tied herself to the bell’s huge clapper. At curfew time, when only muted sounds came from the bell tower, Cromwell demanded to know why the bell was not ringing. His soldiers went to investigate and found the young woman cut and bleeding from being knocked back and forth against the great bell. They brought her down, so the story goes, and Cromwell was so impressed with her willingness to suffer in this way on behalf of someone she loved that he dismissed the condemned soldier saying, “Curfew shall not ring tonight.”
Now I don’t know if that soldier was truly guilty or not. But I do know, sadly, that we are … every one of us. God’s Word tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). This applies to every human being born since Adam and Eve. Each of us has said things, purposely done things, and thought things that were sinful and not pleasing to our holy God.
But thankfully, like that soldier, you and I also know of a truly amazing love where another innocent person was willing to die for the guilty. Jesus once said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends ...” (John 15:12-14).
And that’s exactly what our Lord Jesus did! He gave up his innocent life for the guilty – for you and me. The one who was without sin was nailed to the cross. And there, weighed down with the incredible load of the world’s sins, he became sin for us. Then as Jesus shed his holy blood, suffering the pains of hell, and giving up his life to death, he paid the debt of all those sins in full. Three days later, when he rose triumphant from the grave, his victory song declared, “Because I live, you also will live!”
Our Lord promises us that all who trust and believe in him will rise again on the last day and live forever with him in heaven. Now we know what true love is — the very love that Christ has shown to us!
But it doesn’t stop there. With faith growing in our forgiven hearts, we are called to let that faith shine brightly to others. You and I have the love of Jesus living in our hearts, a true, selfless love that will be reflected in our daily lives. Remember, it was our kind Savior who said, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also you are to love one another. By this everyone will know you are My disciples …” (John 13:34-35).
As forgiven sinners and ambassadors for Christ, we know and have experienced true love beyond compare … and it’s a precious love that we WANT to share!
May our Lord bless us as we show forth his great love!