COLUMNIST: Jesus is the true valentine

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By Jon Rohr

Today’s column is based upon scripture from Matthew chapter 5: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
February is the month many people celebrate Valentine’s Day.
About 32 years ago a beautiful young woman slipped a Valentine’s card into the locker of a very shy sophomore in high school. That simple act of kindness and friendship lead to some rather life changing events. That couple is in church here today. They have been married for 27 years and their name is Steve and Julie. Julie captured my emotional heart that day and that lead to love and that lead to marriage.
Some people call these kinds of events or situations matters of the heart.
Well, our relationship with God is very much a matter of the heart.
Over the years I have heard some people say: “I gave my heart to Jesus.”
I find it a little puzzling when I hear people say that. I find it puzzling because, before we became Christians our sinful hearts were not in a condition to be considered a gift.
In Mark 7:20-23, Jesus says: “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
In Jeremiah 17:9 it says: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.”
These verses point out that our sinful hearts are more like a spiritual cesspool than a gift to offer God. Now do not misunderstand me, God does want our sinful hearts, but He wants them so that He can purify them.
The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Peter to say: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.” (Acts 15:7-9)
God sent His Son Jesus to purify sinful hearts and make them clean. Jesus did this by going to the cross and giving His life up for us as payment for our sinful lives. His innocence and shed blood cleanses the heart of every repentant sinner and cures their spiritual heart disease.
Listen to the beautiful words of the Psalmist, who says: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12)
Here is a prayer to focus on as you think on these things: “Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the gift of faith and for cleaning up our sinful hearts so that we could be your children. You chose us and adopted us because you love us. Thank you for making us your valentine. May we share that good news to those around us who need your love, forgiveness, and life giving faith. Amen.”