Fred Andrea

Fred Andrea

Historians hold that the three influences that have directed the destinies of humankind since society was organized are the sword (or gun), the pen, and the purse.

Sword, pen and purse. This trinity of influence has played an important part in the formation of the United States.

Freedom was wrested from England with the gun. With the pen, the nation was given a brilliant constitution securing democracy and such human freedoms as speech, assembly, and religion. With the purse, our territory was expanded with the Louisiana Purchase, the Gadsden Purchase, and other western territories, including Alaska.

The sword (gun), the pen, and the purse. . .three primary influences upon our destiny.

We, who think of ourselves as children of God, believe there is a fourth influence upon destiny. . .the influence of love. How we are loved and what we love, have a directional influence upon our lives.

In this regard, next Thursday is a very special day! It is not a national holiday. The banks will remain open, schools will not close. But all of us should remember the event. It will be Valentine’s Day.

It comes on the feast day of two different Christian martyrs named Valentine, but the customs connected to the day have nothing to do with the saints.

Most Valentine’s Day customs have been connected with romance or the choice of a mate. But none of us ever tires of hearing a word of appreciation and love.

The words and influence of love are found far too seldom today. I like to think of this observance as a time to express a positive feeling of love and appreciation to everyone, and for that it seems strange that we must have a special day to remind us to do so.

The most distinctive feature of the Bible is its claim that love, emanating first from God, is the most powerful influence in the world – “love your enemies,” love one another,” love your neighbor.”

Other socio-political systems have based their hopes on force, education, social conditioning, and mass conditioning, but none has been so bold as to claim and to demonstrate that love is the one power that can radically change the character of humanity.

In his book, 40 Ways to Say I Love You, James Bjorge tells a story about Ole and Olga. Ole and Olga lived on a farm. Olga was living on a starvation diet of affection. Ole never gave her any signs of love, and Olga’s need to be appreciated went unfulfilled.

At her wit’s end. Olga blurted out, “Ole, why don’t you ever tell me that you love me?” Ole stoically responded, “Olga, when we were married I told you that I loved you, and if I ever change my mind, I’ll let you know.” While love cannot be explained, it does need to be talked about.

I like the story I read recently of a salesman who phoned his wife from a coin-operated phone in a distant city. After a short conversation, he said good-bye and replaced the receiver. The phone rang as he walked away. Expecting to be told of extra charges, he answered it. The operator said, “I thought you’d like to know. Just after you hung up, your wife said, “I love you!”

Perhaps the best we can do is not to try to understand love, but to express it. For love is not so much a thought as an act. It was Erick Fromm who said, “Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will live in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is also of little love.”

May we allow God to help us live and grow as people of much faith and much love. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Dr. Fred Andrea, minister-at-large, is the retired Pastor of Aiken’s First Baptist Church.