A Heart No One Wants On Valentine’s Day
This year two calendar events join together in an uncommon confluence. February 14 marks both the celebration of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. Valentine’s Day is often celebrated with pink and red construction paper hearts and the exchange of those little ‘conversation hearts’– candies that have little Valentine’s Day messages printed upon them. The color associated with Ash Wednesday, however, is black: black ashes, hearts stained black with sin.
As you celebrate February 14, it is somewhat fitting to hear what God has to say about your heart:
Thus says the Lord God: I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. 28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses….Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:22ff).
So when February 14 rolls around, and you give and receive those sweet little valentine hearts, pause and think about what it means when we hear people say, “I’ve given my heart to Jesus,” especially when Jesus says, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:19-20).
You see, God tells you that your heart is unclean, full of wickedness and sin. It’s a heart that no one wants, let alone God. But God has sprinkled baptismal water upon your hearts so that you may be washed and cleansed (Ezekiel 36:25, Hebrews 10:19, 22). He takes away your cold, dead heart and creates in you a new heart by Jesus’ blood.
“First, there is a black cross in a heart that remains its natural color. This is to remind me that it is faith in the Crucified One that saves us. Anyone who believes from the heart So when Valentine’s Day arrives and you see those pink and red hearts, and you see the black of Ash Wednesday, remember how your heart was stained black with sin, but that through the blood of Jesus, you have been washed, justified, and sanctified. You have been given a clean heart, one that is continually cleansed by Jesus’ gracious word of absolution. And so we remember Luther’s explanation of His seal: will be justified (Romans 10:10). It is a black cross, which mortifies and causes pain, but it leaves the heart its natural color. It doesn’t destroy nature, that is to say, it does not kill us but keeps us alive, for the just shall live by faith in the Crucified One (Romans 1:17).”
-- Pastor Lorenz