Love without sacrifice is like food without nutrition. No sustenance. No life. Christianity rests on the foundation of sacrificial love. God gave up his only Son for someone else’s sake…yours…mine.
Sacrificing for the sake of someone else does not come easy for most of us. All too often our definition of love does not include sacrifice. We like the warm feelings, the sense of satisfaction that accompanies love—but how often is love the result of putting someone else’s interests ahead of our own? I can’t help but wonder if love that entails no sacrifice is even love at all.
Scripture’s definition of love could not be less ambiguous.“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).
I’ve long held that a mother’s fierce bond with her children takes place because of her countless hours of sacrifice on their behalf. For example, sleep. Midnight feedings aren’t the only times where moms forfeit sleep. When my kids were young, I was convinced they had a secret “mommy alarm” that automatically sounded when I tried to take a nap in the middle of the day. No laziness on their watch! Moms forego everything from careers to the last cookie on the plate to benefit their little ones. They even accept the fact that they may never think in full sentences again! They freely lay down their lives for their sons and daughters—and in doing so, they discover a profound secret…
Sacrifice teaches us to love. Even if it begins as a responsibility, every time we deny ourselves in order to meet another’s need, we grow in love. No wonder Scripture makes such a big deal about it. “As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (1 John 1:6). From the very beginning Christianity has been about loving. C.S. Lewis says that the whole purpose of becoming a Christian is “simply nothing else” than to become a “little Christ,” a little like the one who laid down his life for another’s sake…yours…mine.
Don’t let yourself be deceived by cheap imitations. Sacrifice. It has everything to do with love.