“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” –1 John 4:8-10 NIV
“The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’” –John 21:17
Love resides in the sacrifice. The very definition of love implies the requirement of suppressing my flesh, as it is a call to patience, kindness, contentedness, humility, selflessness, composure, forgiveness and endurance. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Love is everything that I am not, therefore I must sacrifice who I am, stepping outside of myself, for the ability to do so. To love as He loves is to hardly know myself, a repeated crucifixion of my flesh, so that God’s love may be poured out of me. I mimic Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as it is the leading example of love, the ultimate showcase of affection. We learn from and replicate the master lover, who gave His very life as a sacrifice for our sins.
Therefore the sacrificial giving is the cornerstone and building blocks of our love towards others. It commands that I frequently pause to ask myself “What sacrifices have you made in order to feed the sheep?”. Have you sacrificed your unforgiving heart so that this soul who hurt you may receive a warm embrace at their time of need? Have you set aside your impatient nature to allow an extended listening ear to a friend in sorrow? Have you sacrificed your precious time to tend to the needs of His children- needs both physical, emotional, mental and spiritual? (Are we built to carry the weight of the world? No! If we were, we wouldn’t have needed the crucifixion. But we are capable of the giving away of flesh and the loving of others.) What have I nailed to the cross for the sake of loving my brother?
When this love is complete in us, the world is allowed to see God in us, being an eyewitness to the sacrificial love of Christ in physical form. The body of believers makes the intangible (and at times unrecognizable) need to be loved possible to grasp through our sacrificial giving. It’s God’s gifts, miracles, answered prayers, compassion and heart manifested in the physical on earth. God shows His great love through the heart of a sacrificial giver, a soul that will lay down their own desires to fulfill their Father’s business of feeding the sheep. This is how our love is proven: we sacrifice our flesh to feed His people, allowing the world to come face-to -face with the heart of Jesus that’s in us.
Imagine how this witnessing of God’s love would transform the unbeliever! It’s an encounter with God that is truly transformative in the life of man. The moment when heaven kisses earth, displaying the love the Father posses for His children. Your willingness to love, sacrificing your flesh for the feeding of the flock, has the power to change lives.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your love sacrifice on the cross that enables and shows me how to love others. Help me to love as you love, to sacrifice as you sacrifice, for the feeding of your sheep. In Jesus’ name, Amen.