Love doesn’t look through rose-colored glasses to change reality. Love works in spite of reality. I once read a story about a man whose father wasn’t very good. The father caused a lot of trouble for his family, but he was good to his children. Years later the son said of his dad, “My father may not be the most perfect man in the world. My father may have a lot of sins—but I love him in spite of it.”

That’s a perfect example of God’s love for us. He loves us in spite of who we are. But instead of showing love, we’re prone to set up barriers between ourselves and those we disagree with, those who are unkind to us, or those we can’t trust. The way to break down these barriers is to think about what God has done in our lives to keep us on the right track. When we focus on His tender mercies toward us, then we can look beyond ourselves and our hurt feelings to the needs of others.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and you may be looking forward to exchanging gifts and cards with someone you love. Think about why it is you care for that person who is obviously imperfect. What makes you tolerate that person’s flaws? It’s love. God wants you and me to share this love with people who are hard to love. If He could love us when we didn’t deserve it, we should do the same for others. That’s a valentine worth sharing.

Love will teach us all things: but we must learn how to win love; it is got with difficulty: it is a possession dearly bought with much labor and in long time; for one must love not sometimes only, for a passing moment, but always. — Fyodor Dostoevsky

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder