“For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son” (John 3:16).  “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep” (John 10:11).  Love means sacrifice.  Sacrifice means a humbling of oneself for the good of another.  And this is what the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us: Love means sacrifice.

We love our families.  And we love them by sacrificing ourselves for them.  We put their needs before our own.  We sacrifice our own wants and desires for their good and for their needs.

We love our country.  And we love it by pledging our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to defend her.  We ask not what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our country.  We make sacrifices for our country’s good and we do it because we love her.

We love our church.  And we love our church by giving of ourselves, by sacrificing our time, talents and treasures in service to it.  We volunteer to teach Sunday School, VBS and other various boards.  We help out cleaning and fixing what needs to be cleaned and fixed at the church property.  And we give a portion of the income God has given us, so that the lights will go on and the heat and air conditioning may run; so that a pastor will preach to us both law and gospel and administer baptism and the Lord’s Supper, so that the Word will go forth into all the world through the missionaries we call and send out.

God has called us into these three spheres of family, country and church.  He puts the solitary into a home.  No one is an island unto himself.  Everyone is put into a family, a country and a church.  In these spheres, God cares for all our needs of body and soul.  He employs other members of these spheres to ensure that we have everything we need for this body and life and for the next.

These callings place a claim upon us, a claim upon our presence, our prayers, our time, talents and treasures. They give us a duty.  That duty is to love.  And love means sacrifice.  And sacrifice means that we humble ourselves for the good of another.

So then, “Let us love one another, for love is from God and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”  (1 John 4: 7-11).  And love means sacrifice.