With February being the month of valentines, love is always a good discussion topic. Children are often confused on the meaning of love. They certainly understand that they love their family members. Due to our media, many think love means sexual relations. Many are sure it is all about a romantic relationship. Most assume it is a nice feeling about someone. Some of these notions are not wrong but are not completely correct either. Love encompasses so much more. Christian love is truly an action more than an emotion.
This is a foreign thought to children and it would do good to back up this statement with scripture. The following verses speak for themselves as to what love is and how it is demonstrated. A lesson could be built on any of these.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. --John 3:16
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. --Deuteronomy 6:5
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. --Ephesians 5:1
If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home in him. --John 14:23
At the elementary age students should not be concerned about romantic relationships, so a plan to enjoy the “season of hearts” without encouraging romance would be in order. For a change of pace, have your students make valentines for shut-ins or those in nursing homes with one of the scripture messages on them.
Another idea would be to have a display of hearts with “actions of love” telling how they have spread God’s love to others or how they plan to. For older students it might be interesting to find a concordance and see how many times the word love is mentioned in the Bible and how it is used.
Researching the life of St. Valentine is yet another viable option. Whatever lesson you choose, try to bring the discussion of how action-aimed the word love is and how it usually involves self-sacrifice and work, more than just a feeling. It may help them understand “love” in a whole new way.