By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:16–18)
Our society tends to elevate romantic passion at the expense of sacrificial love. Yet, there are stories in which sacrificial love is apparent. In Disney’s Frozen, it is an act of sacrificial love for a sibling which wins the day.
In a similar vein, Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga beautifully illustrates the value of sacrificial love. In this young adult fantasy series, the Wingfeather children are of royal lineage. Their Kingdom has the tradition that the eldest child is not the king, but is rather the throne warden. As such, the eldest has the primary responsibility to protect the second born who is the heir to the throne. Consequently, the eldest has a position not of power but of servanthood. Throughout the story, Janner, the eldest repeatedly suffers and places himself in grave danger to protect his younger brother, Tink, even when Tink has betrayed him.
Tink, gave in to the evil at work in the world and allowed himself to become melded with a wolf. Having forgotten his true identity, the half-wolf half-boy jumped into the icy sea, seeking to escape his loving family. Janner instinctively jumped in after him. He held fast his crazed brother as Tink’s claws tore his skin and his teeth pierced Janner’s flesh. The two were rescued from the frigid waters. Still, Janner loved his brother.
The broader story embodies the difficulty and powerful beauty of sacrificial love. Janner at times struggled with bitterness toward Tink. Yet, he chose to love his brother.
In Scripture, Joseph exemplified sacrificial love towards his brothers. They sold Joseph into slavery. Joseph suffered for years and God providentially brought him to power. In his elevated position he wisely guided Egypt to store up food during their bountiful years. When famine came, Joseph lovingly provided for his brothers. His suffering was the means to sparing the lives of many.
Such acts of sacrificial love are echoes of Jesus’s ultimate act of love.
Jesus’s pattern of love is how we know what true love is. Jesus’s love is sacrificial. It led Him to lay down His life for us. Our love is to follow His pattern. We should lay down our lives for other believers. One of the means in which we do this is by giving the things of life, worldly goods to others, especially Christians, in need. Such things of this world may include money, food, and shelter.
Generous, sacrificial giving follows Jesus’s example.