The headline might suggest this article is about romance, holding hands, walks on the beach or even the “little blue pill.” But it’s not. No, this may be the least sexy article we have ever done on love and relationships, definitely not the warmest, and, if you take it to heart, it will cost you. How’s that for advertising?
In Gary Chapman’s famous classic “The Five Love Languages,” we learn about meaningful ways we love others, including words of affirmation, touch (men’s favorite by far), spending quality time, acts of service and giving gifts. And while these are important, there’s a type of love Jesus models that gives the truest accounting of love we all look for, we all want and we all need to learn to give daily. But it doesn’t get the headlines.
Unchallengeable, bottom line love requires sacrifice. The greatest love we can give is sacrificial love or, more practically, when we say “no” to ourselves in order to say “yes” to discomfort for the benefit of another. It’s that simple, that hard, and that profound to the other person. Jesus prophetically explained love’s bottom line for us for all in John 15:13 when said:
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
In other words, sacrificial love takes all mystery and guesswork out of play and replaces it with a rock solid message: I am willing to set my own comfort and well-being aside to secure your well being and comfort. That’s not to suggest, we go out and look to be a heart-transplant donor. Instead, we look for ways in our daily relationships where God would call us to sacrifice what we want (feelings), and love someone else sacrificially (faith).
Before Jesus endured horrendous torture and was crucified, he revealed a human nature desiring to live and avoid the painful consequences of God’s plan. He even asked God if there was a “PLAN B.” But instead of choosing emotionally he sacrificially chose God’s will. In the greatest love moment of all time and eternity he chose faith over feelings.
To communicate true love like Jesus did, sacrificing His life, we too have to choose between our feelings and our faith every day and in every setting that involves people. And when we go against those feelings to love others by limiting ourselves, we communicate true, Jesus powered, sacrificial love.
How to Show True Love Beyond Easter
While the Easter Holiday gives the ultimate example of sacrificial love, it’s not meant for a one-time occasion. So here are tips and reasons to show “true love” beyond Easter:
1. Lay It Down
When Jesus volunteered His life, trusting in God’s will and plan, He gave us the gift of forgiveness of our sin (salvation), redeemed all who believe in Him with eternal life (redemption) and allowed us to live with Him forever (resurrection). In other words, He laid down His life, so we might have life.
Whenever you love sacrificially, you lift the burden for someone else. That’s what leads to the blessing. Without Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not have salvation, redemption and resurrection. Jesus modeled the ultimate act of love, now we need to do the same, and love sacrificially.
2. Give It Up
Sacrificial love isn’t about what we take up for ourselves, but what we give up for others. It’s a matter of the will, not the heart. Instead of demanding, try serving. Give up your desires for free time, affection, attention, money and instead give your self, time, affection and money to others. In terms men can understand easily, give up control of the remote and take out the honey-do list.
3. Submit It.
To sacrifice, you have to operate under authority. Jesus, operating under God’s authority, volunteered for the one-way trip to the cross. In Matthew 26:39-42, we see Jesus submitting to God. Despite His feelings, He subordinates His love to do the right thing for someone else -- that’s us.
- “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”… He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
4. Don’t Lose It.
Moments come daily where we can choose to love sacrificially or love selfishly. When we choose our self, we lose the opportunity to do something great. It may cost you, your feeling, your schedule, yourself. But God will redeem that sacrifice (See point No. 5).
The motive can’t be to win points, favors, or a hall pass! We’re just called to do it because Jesus is in us, and we are under his authority.
Moments of Choice -- Examples:
- Come home and grab a beer or bring take-home dinner and serve the family.
- Plop down to watch Sportscenter or pick up pile of laundry and start folding.
- Hideaway in the man-cave or appear to help with the household.
- Watch late night TV or say good night to the kids with prayer.
- Work out alone or take the family for a hike, bike ride or beach day.
- Spend your weekend relaxing or serve your wife so she can relax.
(Have more ideas of sacrificial love? Add them to the comments below.)
5. God’s Watching it.
Perhaps the best part about sacrificial love is that God is watching. He’s not unjust. He knows you and your desires to serve your self. When you put your self aside, He will not forget.
- “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” -- Hebrews 6:10
God uses our sacrifices to develop a better version of us. If the greatest commandment involves loving others, and the greatest love is sacrifice, then God’s men should focus on honing their sacrificial love. Besides, we’re not really that good at showing emotional love anyway, right?
*Kenny Luck, founder and president of Every Man Ministries, is the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church, and has a great deal of experience in leading men through their walk with God. His program Sleeping Giant empowers men to take the experience of a men’s ministry and bring it to their own communities.