How much do I love thee, let me count the ways...
It’s been said that Valentine's Day is a day for lovers. Many today will express their feelings of love to one another. Many husbands and wives are planning their romantic escapes throughout the day. Is Valentine’s day a one day show of affection because of the holiday, or is it a continuation of the genuine love you have for your mate? How many ways can you show someone you love them? Who do you think loves Valentine’s day more, men or women?
The commercialism of Valentine’s day has many running to find the perfect gift that leaves the heart craving for affection. Many try to let their gifts speak the words of love. Are words of affirmation more valuable than expensive gifts? Again, how many ways can you love a person? The title of my tribute to all those who are sharing love during this season of COVID-19 comes from a poem written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, a great poet of the Victorian era.
"How Do I Love Thee" is a famous love poem and was first published in a collection in 1850. The poem deals with the speaker’s passionate adoration of her beloved with vivid pictures of her eternal bond that will keep her connected to her beloved even after death.
Here is the poem; "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight. For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need, by sun and candlelight. I love thee freely, as men strive for right; I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use in my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose with my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."
The title, "How do I love thee?" Is a question many have stumbled over for years. How do you love someone? Can someone be taught to love? How much do you appreciate the effort one does in showing their love to you? If I were to ask you and your mate to write down how you love them, who's list do you think would be longer? And to add a little more pressure, I gave you only 3 minutes to complete it? In the poem, the writer ponders or thinks naturally about answering the first part,
"How do I love thee?" The second part, " Let me count the ways," comes without any hesitation. The words smoothly role off the tongue like water off a ducks back. The heart doesn't seem to stumble at the "ways" this love is expressed. Some individuals studder with ways of love like a car backfiring from the exhaust. Some may say, "Pastor Todd, isn't it the thought that counts?" I would say, "yes and no." It depends on how much time went into expressing those thoughts.
True words of love that are fondly locked away in the heart, have no trouble communicating them when asked. The first answer in the poem involves the whole soul, "I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight." This love is limitless in time and space. There’s a well-known saying, "absence makes the heart grow fonder."
Have you ever been away from someone for a lengthy period of time? Did the separation fill your heart with more of their heart? The last sentence in the poem says, "if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death." "Wow!" Nothing can separate two hearts that are truly bonded in this fashion. Notice, how God is brought into this unbreakable relationship. God is the creator of the love you want on Valentine's day. Read (Romans 8:35-39).
Nothing in this world can separate those who invite Jesus into their love relationship. This is an unconditional love that no power on earth can terminate. God does not deal in occasional acts of love like we sometimes see on Valentine's day. His love is a continually never ceasing, never ending love throughout eternity. Please do not miss understand me, acts of love should be carried out daily.
Doing something sacrificial to express your love shows you care. You could cook a meal, clean the house, or mow the grass. It could be giving someone a loving compliment. People would like to feel that you love them. Giving special attention and listening goes a long way in caring about how your mate’s day went. Many times, just snuggling together and holding hands can bring hearts together more than a giving an expensive gift.
Real love is always a choice you make every day to strengthen your relationship. That's why Jesus came. To teach and show us how to love like he does. (John 13:34,35; 17:23-26). God created us out of love and gave love to us as a great gift (1 Corinthians 13:1-13; 1 John 4:7-12). Read some of the great loving relationships in the Bible are, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Ruth and Boaz, David and Bathsheba, Samson, and Delilah. Send me your comments about their relationships. The song of Solomon is a great book for husbands and wives to read to each other.
Here is a prayer you can pray to each other on Valentine's day, "Heavenly Father, thank you so much for bringing this beautiful heart to my heart. Help me to show my unceasing love and affection to this life you gave me. We invite you Lord into every detail of our relationship. Teach us how to love each other in word and in action. Help our love to be a love of sacrifice. In Jesus name, amen."
If you know any couple who needs renewed love in their relationship please email me. (First names only).
Happy Valentine's Day! Keep loving each other! (John 15:13; 1 John 3:1; 4:7-12)
Pastor Todd Boxley
Worship Center Ministry