Love is the commitment to marriage, to family and to God, said Kong in his message over the Valentine’s Day weekend.
Love is not just chemistry or pleasure; it is a choice to stay committed. This was the message Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, put to his congregation on the Valentine’s Day weekend of Feb 13 and 14.
Before Kong took to the stage, the church heard a testimony from Johann Sim, a zone supervisor from CHC and his wife, Eileen Toh, the pastor leading Harvest Kidz, the children’s ministry, on how God wrote their love story while they served Him in their singlehood.
[Read their testimony here]
THE COMMITMENT OF LOVE
Kong began his message with the story of Saint Valentine, a doctor and Roman priest. The Roman Emperor Claudius II had decided that single men made better soldiers and forbade young men to get married. Valentine found the law to be unjust and performed weddings in secret. He was put into jail eventually and, during his imprisonment, Valentine used his medical skills to help many prisoners. He even cured the judge’s daughter and they fell in love. The Emperor was furious when he found out and ordered Valentine to be executed on Feb 14, 273AD. Before he died, Valentine wrote his lover a long letter signing off as “Your Valentine”. Christians started commemorating Feb 14 as a day to love their neighbors, show compassion and bring healing to those who are needy. Over the last 200 years, Valentine’s Day became a global day to celebrate romantic love whether one was Christian or not.
The highest expression of love is not chemistry or passion, Kong preached; it is commitment. Referencing 1 John 4:7-8, the pastor reminded the congregation that God is the source of love.
“Even when we did not love Him, He died for us unconditionally. Even when we are faithless, He remains faithful. Love is a choice and a commitment, and God has decided to be 100 percent devoted to us,” he said.
The Bible records how God had loved His people from the beginning of time, and how He continuously expressed His love for them through the generations even when they were unfaithful. “But God never stopped loving. He doesn’t need us, but He wants us. That is why He wrote it in His Word: ‘faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.’”
Four times in the New Testament, husbands are commanded to love their wives. This type of love is represented by the Greek word agape, which means a self-giving devotion, a sacrificial love, in spite of what one feels.
“This is a command God gave in the present continuous tense. We have to love our spouse again and again,” Kong told the church. “The only reason God can command us to love is because He knows that love is more than a feeling—it’s a choice.”
At a wedding, a couple promise to take each other to have and to hold “from this day on”—it is a promise for a lifetime. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”. Kong said that when a couple chooses to commit, God promises to help them strengthen their willpower to commit and stay in the relationship.
1. LOVE IS A COMMITMENT TO MARRIAGE
“The truth is, a happy marriage requires a lot of determination. If two people are devoted to each other, there will be a willingness to invest in the marriage, to make sacrifices for it to grow and thrive,” Kong said.
This is critical because no relationship or marriage will be consistently satisfying. The key to getting through difficult times is to have a long-term view on one’s marriage.
“This anger and frustration is temporary—it will eventually pass when you go through it together,” Kong reminded the church. “Without commitment for the long term, trust cannot flourish.”
What if one’s marriage is failing? Kong encouraged the congregation that God is deeply concerned for the marriages of all His people. The first miracle that Jesus performed was at a wedding where He turned water into wine. In one afternoon, he turned the situation around. The key to turning any situation around lies in what Mary said to the servants in John 2:5 “Whatever He says to you, do it”.
Jesus said to the Church of Ephesus, whose love for God had grown cold, in Revelation 2:5, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”
Kong placed emphasis on three words in this verse: “Remember what you used to enjoy and have with each other. Repent and decide to turn things around. Redo and start doing the fun things you did at the beginning of the relationship. Make that choice to do the above.”
2. LOVE IS A COMMITMENT TO FAMILY
To make the home a shelter from storms, Kong introduced the five H’s:
• Hear, which is to lend a listening ear to family members.
• Hug, means giving physical affection to one another.
• Help, is to render practical help when they need it.
• Hope, is to build each other with kind words.
• Lastly, Honor, which means to highly value.
3. LOVE IS A COMMITMENT TO GOD
Kong encouraged the singles not to feel lonely on Valentine’s Day. Singleness is not a problem, he said, quoting his wife Sun Ho, who declared this at a conference for singles last year. Some people are single by circumstances, while others are single by choice. Singles have one advantage over the married couples: freedom from cares.
Adam was single, he had been given gifts and a calling to organize the Garden of Eden himself, even before Eve appeared. Genesis 2:18 says, “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’”
The problem was not that he was single, but that he was alone, Kong explained. He encouraged the singles to be the best that they can be for God, be full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and to be happy and excited about life.
Kong ended the service by getting everyone in the congregation to pen a message on a special Valentine’s Day card for their spouse, family member or the cell group member sitting next to them. He also encouraged them to continue to love God and be devoted to God.