Love is never mediocre, but extreme. It is willing to pay the greatest cost and carry the heaviest burdens – without anyone ever knowing about it. If there is no sacrifice, there is no love.
That’s why many bail out when the cost gets too high. They wrongly believe that love is a feeling rather than an action. Love isn’t always fun; sometimes it hurts.
Love will motivate one to go the second mile, even though it is unpleasant. It determines what the other person needs and cares for it even when it requires sacrifice.
Sometimes helping people is messy. It takes a lot of time. I have been in the middle of difficult situations where sin has harmed a marriage; not only is a spouse (really both of them) hurt, but children, and other family members are caught in the ugly backwash. I’ve had to deal with ministry leaders that have made bad decisions that have necessitated replacing them. I’ve dealt with some people that have an unrepentant heart and don’t want help.
You don’t just go home and forget about these dear people. They stay on your mind in the wee hours of the morning and all through the day. It hurts…because you love them.
Even though it means personal sacrifice we are called to minister to them because it is what Jesus would do and He would do so with kindness and love. Here is God’s Word to us about helping people that are broken.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness: considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”. (Galatians 6:1-2)
The “law of Christ” means that everything is governed by a spirit of love, even as Christ loved us, unconditionally and sacrificially (John 15:12). The word “bear” means “to life, take up and carry for a sustained period of time”. The word “burdens” means “a heavy weight that cannot be borne alone”. Love is willing to help others carry heavy burdens too great for them and to do so over a long time. This is the way God loves us.
Have you ever been involved in the restoration of a person’s life? At the end of it there is nothing more fulfilling, but at the beginning and in the middle of the process it is difficult. It requires sacrifice; it requires a heart of love.
Someone said, “There are three types of love; love if…love because of…love in spite of”. Really the first two aren’t love at all; they have conditions attached. God’s love is “in spite of” what we have done or what it costs Him. That’s the way we are to care for people. Most people understand trading, but they don’t understand giving or loving.
Love won’t stop giving because a need is difficult to meet. We are to love others as Christ has loved us. Here are some verses that show how God and Christ loved us. Note the obvious association between love and sacrificial giving.
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us…” (I John 3:16)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16)
“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. (Romans 5:8)
“…the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life…” (Matthew 20:28)
“…the Son of God…loved me, and gave himself for me”. (Galatians 2:20)
“…Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us…” (Ephesians 5:2)
“…Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it”. (Ephesians 5:25)
It poses a simple question: what are we sacrificing for those around us at home, work, school, our community and church? Love is not saying empty words, but doing whatever is necessary to meet the needs of those around us. Do people around you know that you love them?
I read a story about a little boy that had a difficult time at school. He was not well-liked and the other kids made fun of him. Valentines Day approached and the teacher had each student to make a small pouch shaped like a heart and she stapled them on the bulletin board in order and in reach of the children.
She instructed the children that on Valentines Day they were to make cards for each of their classmates and place them the heart-shaped pouches on which their classmates’ name was written.
The little boy excitedly came home and told his mother that he needed to make valentines for all of his class. His mother was aware of how her son had been mocked and rejected by the other children and dreaded his being hurt even more.
She encouraged him to stay home that day and promised to do something special for him. However, the boy insisted on going to school that day; he was not going to miss it. His mother went out and bought the construction paper and other materials needed for him to make the valentines for his friends and he worked on them tirelessly for several days.
The day finally came and he went to school excited with his backpack filled with homemade, personalized valentine cards for his classmates. His mother had a heavy heart as she anticipated the disappointment in her son not receiving many cards.
She decided to do something special for him and made him warm chocolate chip cookies and had a big glass of milk ready as he walked in the door, hoping her kindness would help him deal with his hurt.
The door opened and he walked in with a big smile saying, “Not a one, not a one, not a single one”. She supposed that was his way of trying to overcome his disappointment by pretending it didn’t bother him. She showed him the cookies and milk and he sat down and began to eat.
Still smiling, he looked at his mother and said again, “Mom, not a one; not a one! I didn’t forget a single one”.
It makes all the difference in the world as to whether your focus is on giving or receiving. Love focuses on giving, even if it means sacrifice. May today we not forget a single one in our family that they might know we love them.