Today marks the day where candy sales sky-rocket, last minute flower purchases are made at the grocery story and greeting card suppliers go in the black for the year, called “Black Tuesday” this year. (I made that last part up) It’s Valentines Day! Love is in the air and romance abounds. But Valentines Day didn’t start out as a day of romance. It’s actually a day of blood shed and sacrifice in the history books. Before you go asking someone to “be MY Valentine” this year, maybe we should reflect on the true story and ask God to make us more like “A Valentine” instead.
Saint Valentine was a priest and bishop from the 3rd Century. He was martyred under the wicked Emperor Claudius II and buried on February 14th, hence Valentines Day. The story of his life is much deeper than what we’ve made his day out to be. It’s a model example for us of standing up for truth and being firm in our convictions.
During Valentine’s time as a priest and bishop, Claudius went on a mission to end Christianity by outlawing the faith and even killing those who followed Jesus. On top of his attack on Christianity, he also outlawed marriage in an attempt to strengthen his army and expand his kingdom, believing that unmarried soldiers would fight more courageously and recklessly than married ones.
In the midst of this, Valentine continued to point people to God and if a Christian couple ever came to him wanting to be married, he would perform the wedding ceremony. Once Claudius caught wind of this, Valentine was arrested and jailed. In spite of his sentence, Claudius would invite Valentine to his palace on occasion to talk with him and Valentine would tell him about Jesus. At one point, the Emperor became so furious with Valentine for continuing to share the Gospel with him that he ordered him not to mention Jesus again.
Valentine stood firm in his conviction that Jesus was the way and chose to continue talking to Claudius about him. Eventually, the emperor had enough and ordered Valentine to be beaten, and eventually stoned to death and beheaded. Legend records that the last words he wrote were to a young lady that was greatly impacted by his ministry, signing the letter, “from your Valentine”.
As you celebrate Valentines Day this year, remember the story behind the story. Sharing cards is great. Buying flowers is special. Going on a date or having a special event for your sweetheart is fantastic. But don’t forget that behind all the fanfare of Valentines Day is truly a Valentine who gave his life for what he believed. On this Valentines Day, let’s try to be more like THE Valentine than having someone be MY Valentine!