Love Is More Than Sacrifice
"The essence of love is sacrifice." When I read these words some time ago, something in me recoiled. It was a blog post from a Christian author and had all the best intentions. But it was a lie, and one that I have seen repeated over and over again by well-meaning Christian authors. The falsehood of this statement is unmasked easily through the observation that, if sacrifice (read: "suffering willingly accepted") really is the essence of love, then there can be no love in heaven. And there can be no love within the Trinity.
LOVE EMPOWERS THE BELOVED
When we speak and think of love, this must become our focus: love empowers the beloved. Love provides the means, resources, encouragement, strength, desire, hope, etc. to empower the other to live a thriving and fully human life. Part of a fully human life includes the ability to be generous and bless others, which means that sometimes love even looks like receiving: by receiving, you empower the other to be a giver.
The problem with rooting love in sacrifice is that we begin to measure our love by how much it costs us rather than by how much it empowers the other. We begin to believe that because we suffer much, we love much. What's worse is that we can begin to believe that unless someone else is suffering for me, they must not love me.
Yes, sometimes the brokenness of this world will interfere and we must choose to empower the other even at the cost of embracing some suffering. But where brokenness diminishes, the need for sacrifice will decrease while love can continue to increase without limits.
Love empowers the beloved. This is our measuring stick.