How much do you love others? Would you be willing to die for someone you loved, to sacrifice your hopes and your dreams so that someone else can achieve theirs? Many people say they’re willing to die for someone else, but do they really mean it? I don’t know, and that’s between them and the person they say they love.
What I do know, though, is that love is a quality not many people truly understand. If we’re going to love anyone else, we really need an example of how to do it. That’s one of the myriad reasons we have Christ.
Today’s verse is Ephesians 5:2.
Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
Love takes sacrifice; love is sacrifice. And just the fact that love requires so much from us means it will never ever be easy. If love for someone has ever come easy, you just don’t know them well enough yet. Even if you are the most loving, forgiving, patient person in the universe, someone else will eventually get on your nerves. Know why?
You’re not perfect. No one is. Not the person typing this blog this chilly Thursday morning and not the person you’re currently frustrated with at home, at school or at work.
So how do we handle it? Well, we should handle imperfect people the same way we do with every step along the path of following Christ. We choose to do what Christ did. Love others in spite of what they’ve done or said to us; love others in spite of what we want.
If you believe in Christ, you’ve committed to following Him. That means He becomes your example for how to live. And Christ loved us so much He was willing to die for us.
So does that mean we need to rush out and look for someone to sacrifice ourselves for? No. Not so much. But when was the last time you inconvenienced yourself for someone else? When was the last time you gave up your plans to help someone else? When was the last time you bought groceries for someone who couldn’t afford them even if you weren’t sure you could afford your own groceries? You get the idea.
It’s okay to get frustrated with people, but kind of like despair, it’s not okay to stay there. Don’t stay frustrated. Forgive them and love them, and the best way to do that is to do something kind for them. And if you can’t do something kind for them (for realistic reasons), pray for them. It’s hard to be frustrated with someone you’re praying for.
But if you’re going to sacrifice for someone, make sure that sacrifice comes from love and not fear. It’s strange how love and fear can sometimes share similar qualities. If you’re sacrificing because you’re afraid that someone else will reject you or because you’re afraid that you won’t measure up otherwise, that’s not love. Love is never motivated by performance; yes, performance encourages love and it demonstrates love. But real love shouldn’t hinge on how you act or what you do. So judge the motivation of your sacrifice. If you’re giving away everything you have because you’re afraid of what people think, that’s not love. If you’re giving away everything you have in spite of what people think, that’s a different story.