This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13.
Sacrificial love has gone out of fashion today. We read heartwarming stories of people doing wonderful things for others, usually in the name of charity or disaster relief. But, outside of war reporting, we rarely hear stories about people who sacrifice their lives for others. Think about it. Can you make a list of people you would take a bullet for? It would probably be a short list, but that would be sacrificial love.
Most of us can name at least one person who sacrificed something for us. For me it was my mom. She gave up pursuing a promising career to stay home to raise my brother and I. She loved our family and others sacrificially. Loving others came naturally for mom because the love she gave came from her love of the Lord.
Who have you sacrificed something of your life for? The degree to which you sacrifice for others is the degree we live the Christian Life. A young man I know decided to work three jobs so his wife could quit her job, stay home, and raise their daughter. That is sacrificial love. Jesus teaches in John 15:17, “This I command you, that you love one another.” When the Sadducees asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-39. So, everything worthwhile for the kingdom of God, everything that matters eternally springs from our willingness to love others.
Sacrificial love means investing our time, money, talents, gifts and service in our love for others. That sounds hard to do. But we’re not the ones doing it. Christ is. Jesus teaches in 15:7, “If you abide (connect permanently) in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” The sacrificial love we show others is the love of Jesus flowing through us as we abide in Him. When we abide in Him we get to know Christ intimately. We put all our preconceived notions about ourselves and Jesus aside. Abiding in Jesus helps us live in obedience. And blessings flow from obedience.
The principle is a simple one: if we abide in Him and His love, He loves others through us. We bear fruit. God is glorified.
We were brought into this world to glorify God by living beyond ourselves and by loving others. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “if anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself (and consider others greater than ourselves) pick up his cross daily (be willing to love sacrificially every day) and follow me (allow yourself to be crucified for God’s glory.)”
Another way we can love sacrificially is to model the message. Jesus loves each of us just as we are. Do we love all people the same way? Or do we hesitate to show love to the person who leads a lifestyle we don’t agree with, or to someone in an ethnic group we don’t like? What about the homeless? How about those we consider unlovable?
A non-believer once commented, “A person can accomplish great things if they receive discipline, direction and order. That’s exactly what the Bible gives us. It’s what Jesus taught. It’s how we love someone sacrificially and unconditionally!
If we’re to learn the meaning of sacrificial love we have to get serious about the opportunities God presents us to show others unconditional, sacrificial love. When we hear His voice we need to seize that moment and show the love of Christ, make Him known and keep that appointment. Then keep on praying for more opportunities to love one another, like Christ loved us, sacrificially and unconditionally.