The origins of Valentines day have been lost in the mists of time but still it remains with us for better or for worse as a celebration of all things romantic, an opportunity to profess our love for our significant other or a cynical commercial ploy depending on your point of view.
What is much clearer is the emphasis on love in the Bible. Time and time again love is described in scripture as the pinnacle of Christian endeavour, the thing to aim for above all else. It is the first and second greatest commandments, as defined by the Lord Jesus himself when questioned by a lawyer:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself." Matthew 22v37-39 (MKJV)
Of course, the kind of love being described here is not of the hearts and flowers variety, it is what is sometimes called “divine” love, or “agape” love (from the Greek word it is translated from in the New Testament, as opposed to “eros” which refers to what we might want to politely call “romantic” love)
Jesus tells us to show this sort of love to everyone, including most famously our enemies. He says:
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” Matthew 7v12 (ESV)
This “divine” love is so called because it is something that God Himself has. In fact, it was His love for humanity which motivated Him to send his only Son to die so that we could live, as this most well-known of Bible verses says:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3v16 (MKJV)