February is a month for sweethearts—a month filled with cards, candy, flowers and even the occasional Valentine’s dinner. No doubt about it, February is traditionally the most romantic month of the year. Several years ago I helped plan a Sweetheart Banquet in our small reservation community in Arizona. Imagine my surprise when in addition to the invited couples, along came a large assortment of children as well as enough crusty old bachelors to fill their own table. No one seemed to think this was odd because it was simply assumed that everyone was invited. To exclude anyone was unthinkable.
February and Valentine’s Day is also about giving gifts. God’s gift is love and to exclude anyone from the gift of His love would be as unthinkable as asking the children and single men to leave the banquet. In fact, to quote a radio Bible teacher, God loves you so much that He can’t keep His eyes off you. You are constantly on His mind. Paul tells us that God, who is rich in mercy, has made us alive in Christ “because of His great love with which He loved us” (Ephesians 2:4-5). The “us” in these verses doesn’t merely refer to believers in Ephesus. Instead, these verses end with “by grace you have been saved” and that positively, absolutely includes all who will receive the incredible gift of God’s great mercy, love and grace.
During their conversation at the well, the Samaritan woman heard Jesus say “if you only knew the gift God has for you.” The gift God offers is the free gift of eternal life (John 4:14) and it’s available to all people (John 3:16). What better gift could we, who are born in sin and darkness, be given? What more perfect gift could God offer us than the gift of restored fellowship with Him (I John 1:5-7)?
I can still see that table of older men at the banquet. They weren’t dressed in fancy, going-to-a-banquet type clothes. They came as they were and didn’t try to put on airs to impress anyone. That’s the way God wants us to come to Him as well. We have nothing to bring that would merit His favor. Dusting off our outsides won’t make a bit of difference when we stand before a God who knows us from the inside out.
I have to admit when I saw the children clamoring for a place at the tables and the men quietly taking chairs reserved for invited couples, I was taken aback and my attitude wasn’t what it should have been. I felt like the disciples who thought the children shouldn’t come to Jesus in Mark 10:13-16. With a nudge from God, I quickly realized there was no reason to fret. Everyone who came had a great time and we had enough food to go around. Those who were there came because they wanted to enjoy the fellowship and all the good things laid out before them. They were anxiously waiting to see what the night held in store for them.
God’s gift of salvation is much more than any Valentine’s Day gift. The Bible tells us that God is love (1 John 4:16) and because His character is love, He operates in love. He has wonderful gifts for those who are anxiously waiting to see what a life totally given to Him has in store for them.
The invitation to accept God’s gift of love and salvation is for young and old, couples, singles, children and yes, even crusty old bachelors. All who come are welcome.