This week is always a little special, so let me wish all of you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
Yes, I know that not everyone enjoys Valentine’s Day, since it reminds some people that they have no “significant other” or that their relationships aren’t what they’d like them to be -- but that may be missing the original point of the day. I mean, Valentinus was a priest back in third-century Rome, when Emperor Claudius II banned marriages in an attempt to make his troops more willing to leave home and family on extended tours of duty. Instead, Claudius’ administration encouraged non-committal, extramarital sex, as well as taking part in pagan sexual holidays... which is why Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned for performing Christian weddings in secret.
Now, you might be saying, “But Kevin, that’s still makes the day all about weddings and love and relationships!” and to some extent, you’d be right. But Valentinus didn’t go to his death on February 14, 269 ad because he was such a big fan of love and marriage -- he did it because he was such a big fan of obeying God, even when the rest of his culture gleefully pulled in the opposite direction.
Let me encourage everyone reading this to spend a moment today and just think about living like Valentinus -- if only for one day. Where our culture screams “Sex!” can we cry, “Love!” instead? Where our culture growls “Outrage!” can we shout, “Grace!” instead? Where our culture begs for “Indulgence!” can we beg for “Wisdom!” instead?
In our message this week, we continued talking about “Hitting the Target” in life. But where last week, we looked at deciding first what it is you’re trying to accomplish in the first place, this week, we looked at what you’re aiming at.
See, multiple times in Scripture, God promises that “He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4), or “all these things will be given to you” (Matthew 6:33), or the like -- He promises that you can hit your target. But there’s a crucial context to all of that. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” or “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you,” etc. If you want to hit the target -- whatever target you’re trying for in life -- start by making sure that you’re aiming for God’s will in the first place.
People will say that it’s hard to know God’s will, but that’s not really true. The vast majority of God’s will is spelled out pretty clearly in the Bible in general (1 Peter 2:13-15, 1 Thessalonians 5:13-18, Matthew 5:44, etc.) -- but if we’re not willing to really listen to God’s will in general on a daily basis, it really shouldn’t surprise us that we struggle to hear God’s will in particular when we do decide to start listening. That’d be like trying to run a marathon when you haven’t even jogged around the block in years.
So let me encourage you to take this Valentine’s Day to stop and think like Valentinus -- to start by aiming first at God’s will in life. Look over the passages in Scripture that clearly spell out God’s will in general, and commit to making that the target you’re aiming for today. If you’re wanting to make this a day about love, let’s start by actively loving God...