Read 1 John 3:16-18 and 4:10-12.
Surrendering all to Jesus and truly becoming a living sacrifice for Him is a choice we have to continually make. We are constantly recommitting ourselves to Him and relying on His strength. Sacrifice is like love: a choice we can’t carry out on our own.
We know what love is because Jesus sacrificed Himself for us. Jesus showed His love for us by sacrificing His own personal comfort, wants, and needs. Ask yourself, why do we sacrifice everything to follow Jesus? Because He is God? Because He is right? Because He is all-powerful? Because He can save us from eternal death?
Or is it because He loved us first and we owe Him? Is it because that’s what we’re supposed to do as Christians? Maybe because we have always been told that’s the best thing to do and we want the best thing? Is it because we love adventure and are really bored with our current state of life? Is it to win converts? Is it what our friends, family, or fellow church members are doing it and we don’t want to feel out of the loop? Could it be we are afraid not to?
None of these reasons are good enough. We’re not even good enough, but thankfully Jesus took care of that. Our devotion to God should come out of our love for Him.
But here’s an important fact we often forget: we can’t even love God on our own. No, we can’t. The Bible also says we need to love others in the same way Jesus loved us, by laying down our lives for our fellow Christians. Hang on now, we can’t even love God, and He’s awesome. How are we supposed to love other people that are just like us? It’s funny how much pressure we put on ourselves to do things we were never capable of doing on our own anyways. As always, God shows us the way.
“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 4:10
It is God’s love for us that fuels our love for Him and others, and it’s out of love for Him we surrender to Him for His glory. Only by being aware and accepting of God’s great love for us can we really follow His command to love others.
And that is one of many things Jesus calls us to do: love others. Love leads to sacrifice. Jesus loved us, and we can see all the things He has done for us. He left heaven and came to earth, He died, He washed our feet, He came back to life, He teaches us, He heals us, He never gives up on us—the list could go on and on. Jesus modeled the way we are now called to live, in devotion to God and service for others. But what caused Jesus to do these things must be our reason for doing them too: love for God and love for others.
We can’t get better at loving anyone until we know how much we are loved by God. Our ability to love flows from our fullness of God’s love. And in order to accept God’s love and let it overflow in our lives, we have to earnestly seek Him and let Him be the God of our lives. We have to open our eyes to see God all around us, holding us, loving us, and staying with us. When we’re full of God’s love, we can’t help but give it to other people!
I have to warn you about something: love isn’t a feeling. Love is an action, which you are totally capable of showing to people no matter what your current emotional state is. God calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Love is selfless, so no matter your personal feelings you should still show it. No matter how high maintenance someone is being, no matter how mean they are, no matter how ungrateful, show love. By choosing love instead of anger, you not only show them Jesus and glorify God, but you feel better too.
Finally, read 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13. Meditate on how God displays these characteristics of love toward us.
Finally, say a prayer telling God how much you love Him and thanking Him for His love for you.