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February is the month when we truly focus on our love for one another as we prepare for Valentine’s Day. As a retired teacher, I can still remember the excitement in the hearts of second graders as they thought about the coming holiday. Each one was concerned with the cards he would give as well as receive. I always made sure that I had extra cards in case a child forgot to bring some or someone was short on the receiving end.

One Valentine’s Day has stuck with me over the years. A sweet second grade boy had brought a stuffed teddy bear and candy heart for the young girl of his dreams. Both were adorable, loving and well-mannered children, but the little girl absolutely refused the gifts. I was amazed and spoke with her a few times suggesting that it might be thoughtful on her part to accept the tokens of affection, but she was adamant in her refusal. The little boy left that day with his gifts and I feared a broken heart, but I learned that he later found a new girlfriend on the bus ride home. His new heartthrob gladly accepted the presents.

As this day approaches, I think of the love so freely extended to us by our Heavenly Father. He willingly gave His Son to die on the cross to pay our sin debt in full. Do we accept this gift graciously and truly ponder the pain and suffering that went into it? Or do we accept it and file it away to be examined and treasured at a later date? If we tarry too long that day may never come.

Let us remember that gift so freely given to us as Christians that “we love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:10) Accept that precious love of our Father and let it shine brightly as you extend love to others. Love with the heart of God!