Self-Sacrifice and Love

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. Right now, we’re going through 1 Corinthians 13. Tonight, we’re going to be looking at the topic of self-sacrifice and love. After all, Paul’s next point is that if we give our bodies to be burned and have not love, we have nothing.

Martyrdom became something common in the early church. Christians weren’t the most popular people around. For some moving accounts of martyrdom, one can read some of the writings of the early church and read about people like Ignatius and Justin Martyr. One of the most incredible ones to read about is the martyrdom of Polycarp. There’s also the account of how Peter when he was crucified asked to be crucified upside-down because he was not worthy to die in the same matter as his Lord.

Indeed, one can read these accounts and hope that if push came to shove, that we would do the same thing. It’s quite easy to talk strongly. We can all be like Peter and say “Lord. I am wiling to die for you!” How shocking it is if we were told that “You will deny me three times.” “Me?! Deny you Lord?! Never!” only to hear ourselves later say “Him? Sorry. Don’t know him. You must have me confused with someone else.”

And of course, as I tell people, if we think about it, dying for Christ is pretty easy. Living for Him is the hard thing and rather than think about dying for Him, we should think about living for Him.

Paul’s point in this situation however is to say not even the sacrifice of death is worthwhile if one does not have love. We can even conceive of how someone would make that sacrifice if only for the sake of personal honor rather than out of love for the one that they say that they serve.

Of course, I don’t intend to call into question the faith of the early church fathers. I do not doubt that Ignatius, Justin, and Polycarp were all believers. I do believe that we should look to them as great heroes of the faith and hope that we could make the sacrifice, but we must remember that because one is a Christian, one can make the sacrifice. Making the sacrifice does not make one a Christian.

Thus, we have seen that for Paul, there is nothing that you can have or do that if you do not have love, will merit you anything. Love is absolutely essential in everything. The question we can ask ourselves then is if we are really seeking love. There is the problem in our society that we are seeking the wrong thing in that we make love something that it is not. Let us be clear that we must be seeking biblical love.

So what is that love exactly? We’ve spent much time talking about the value of love and indeed we have to do that. As I said at the start, it can be tempting for us to read through that portion without taking the time to really see what it says. Now that we have seen that, next time, we will begin looking at what it is.

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