The month of February is designated as Black History Month, Heart Month, and the observance of Valentine’s Day.
As for me, the center of all of it is love according to God’s word.
The Bible is a book of people of ethnicity. An ethnic group is a grouping of people with a common set of traditions, ancestry, language, history, society, culture, nation, religion or social treatment within their residing area. Notice, it does not mention race. Please remember, Jewish people are of a nationality and religion — and various races.
Jeremiah, a prophet of God to his people, was charged with delivering some very unpopular news: the king of Babylon was coming and he would conquer Jerusalem. For hundreds of years, God’s people had been insincere with Him. They would worship Him and be devoted one minute and then later resort to worshipping and serving the false gods of their neighbors. God was displeased and a conquering enemy king would be their punishment.
As is often the case with those who deliver bad news, Jeremiah was not very popular, especially with the king. Finally, having more than they could take, a few advisors of the king convinced him that Jeremiah needed to be put to death. The king said, in effect, to do whatever you want to do. These royal advisors took Jeremiah and dropped him down into a cistern for a slow death.
The Bible says he was a Cushite servant of the King of Judah. Where is Cush? Many scholars associate it with the kingdom of ancient Ethiopia. Which means Ebed-Melech was a person of color. He went to the king, the very same one who had given the approval to throw Jeremiah in a hole and now accepted the petition for the prophet’s life. Ebed-Melech was not a friend of the king. He was no crony or yes-man. He was a court official in service of the monarch willing to risk his reputation and probably his life in asking the king to reverse his decision.
The king said, “Do whatever you want,” and Ebed-Melech found thirty men to help him rescue Jeremiah.
Ebed Melech had respect for what was right. He was concerned for another’s life, and willing to sacrifice his life for another.
That is love. I suggest that this is what the month of February is emphasizing. Jesus said it like this: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).
Paul said it like this in 1 Corinthians 13 — Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love is not puffed up. Love does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, and is not easily provoked, love thinks no evil; love rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Love bears all things, believes all things, hope all things, endures all things. Love never fails. And now abides faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Let our hearts be filled with a love that makes a difference in the lives of others. Let us be our brother’s keeper.
The Rev. Carey N. Ingram is the pastor at Lovejoy Baptist Church.