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Perhaps it’s because the romance of Valentine’s Day is already in the air that some gentle spirit guided me to 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 where I found the most exquisite words of love. I’m sharing them with you now so that you can share them with your loved one on February 14.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it
keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the
truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
These wonderful words made me reflect on just how important love is in our lives – and especially to show love to those who turn to us in desperate need. Not to question their need, but to open our hearts and offer the gift of love. While St Valentine himself became known for joining couples in holy matrimony – and was martyred for it – he was, in fact, expressing a universal love for mankind. And this is how we, at The Salvation Army view love. It’s about opening our arms and hearts to a tiny, abandoned baby, or to an innocent child who’s been cruelly treated by parents that child had trusted. For children, love is a place of safety, a warm bed, good food, a hug and a kiss when they’re tired or sad.
Love is protecting women and their children who have fled an abusive home. Our love is shown in the support given to a family whose lives have fallen apart for whatever reason – unemployment through retrenchment or lack of skills – bad judgment, substance abuse … To these people, an outstretched hand of friendship and understanding instead of condemnation and rejection, is a priceless gift of love.
To the elderly and forgotten, love is offering a haven where they can live out their lives, remembered and cared for. And for the homeless – the hungry and shunned – kindness itself is a gift of love. Add a meal and clothing and their cup runneth over. Day in and day out, our work in The Salvation Army imparts a clear message of love which grows and flourishes through the universal and dependable love of God. His love is endless and tireless, forgiving and accepting, and there’s always enough to go round. In our commitment to show God’s love to others, we open our arms and hearts with love and compassion to the poorest of the poor, to those who’ve known rejection and sadness. Love is the faith and trust that fi nds a way, even when hope seems impossible.
Times are hard for us all – and getting harder. And while love is limitless – we are always able to embrace another abandoned or abused child, another destitute human being, another forgotten old man or woman, all whose desperate need is greater than we can imagine – unfortunately our fi nances are far from limitless. I’m appealing to you at this time for a gift that will show your infi nite love of mankind – a gift that will help us help another child, woman or man. Your support is what makes our work possible. May God continue to love and bless you – and a joyous Valentine’s Day!
Major Carin Holmes
Public Relations Secretary, Southern Africa Territory