The Power of Love
Word association games are fun and often revealing. For instance, one word that comes to mind for February is LOVE. They stamp LOVE on little, itty, bitty, pieces of candy. They put delectable chocolates in heart shaped boxes, and presently there are 192 million Valentine's Day cards exchanged annually.
Have you ever wondered how these particular expressions of love came to be so popular? Those Conversation Heart Candies were invented 150 years ago by the Chase brothers, who founded the New England Confectionary Company (NECCO). The first “conversation” candies were not in the shape of hearts but rather shells; text was inscribed on a foil wrapper not the candy itself.
While chocolate has been around for centuries, the first chocolate candies (as we know them today) were invented in the 1860s by Richard Cadbury, an Englishman who was also the first to market them in a heart-shaped box for Valentine's Day that same decade.
While the tradition of “Valentines” has its roots in pagan Roman culture and has been celebrated worldwide for centuries; the tradition of Valentine's cards did not become widespread in the United States, until the 1850s, when Esther A. Howland from Worcester, Massachusetts began mass-producing them. Were you expecting someone by the name of Hallmark? Actually J.C. Hall, not Hallmark, began making his “mark” some sixty years later in Kansas City, Missouri.
What do these three particular expressions of love have in common? They all were invented at one of the darkest times in American history – The Civil War. At a time of tremendous disunity when brother fought against brother, at a time when it seemed there was no hope for peace and forgiveness, these expressions of Love still made their way into the fabric of our great nation. What a reminder that love is more powerful than hate!
God’s Word tells us that love forgives, and it turns enemies into friends. Romans 5:10 tells us that when we were enemies, Christ died for us. Jesus calls us “friends” in John 15. What love! What forgiveness! God’s love can transform us into His friends. Christ expects us to make friends of our enemies. Christ expects us to love and forgive others as He loves and forgives us.
A central figure in the Civil War was Abraham Lincoln, who was born February 12, 1809. He was a man of integrity, known to the world as “honest Abe”. He was a humble man. Simply read many of his writings and you will perceive his dependency upon God. He was a man who loved people like God loves. It is well documented that President Lincoln received much ridicule in the press and from the lips of many a politician. One notable individual who was unmerciful in his attacks was Edwin Stanton. Not once do we find President Lincoln responding in kind. Matter of fact, after dismissing his Secretary of War, who was incompetent and insubordinate, President Lincoln chose his enemy Edwin Stanton for the position. When asked why he would ask someone who had incessantly publically assailed him; President Lincoln responded, “He is the best man for the job”. After being selected, Stanton would continue to embarrass the President from time to time. President Lincoln did not allow these personal attacks to deter him from what was best for the country, and kept Stanton as Secretary of War. What Longsuffering! It has been told that as Stanton stood over the lifeless body of his assassinated President, he uttered these words with tears in his eyes, “There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.”
What could turn a critic into a friend? The power of love! A love that suffereth long, is kind, that envies not, that seeks not her own, that is not easily provoked, that beareth all things, and endures all things. A love that forgives. A love that seeks the welfare of another over self. A sacrificial love that is epitomized by our Savior’s love for us. A love that conquers hate. In the midst of the Civil War stood a figure who refused to allow hatred to win. What about you?
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