Love is Sacrifice

“If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love. If we have the idea that love is characterized as cautious, wise, sensible, shrewd, and never taken to extremes, we have missed the true meaning. This may describe affection, and it may bring us a warm feeling, but it is not a true and accurate description of love.”

                                                                                                     My Utmost for His Highest—Oswald Chambers

 There have been so many accounts of great, sacrificial love in mythology, timeless novels, poems, and songs. They depict the love of one person for another in such a way that our hearts are drawn to it, broken by it, inspired by it. Nothing compares, though, to the Love that hung the stars, and the Love that breathed life into each of us, the Love that hung on a tree to reconcile us to Righteousness. It is that Love that inspires us to sacrifice ourselves—our selfish desires, our faithless fears, our loveless hearts. It is that Love that draws us out of ourselves and makes us better than we can be on our own, it causes us to love dangerously, to love fully, to love sacrificially. To give ourselves away.

A few of my favorite song lyrics on love:

If it doesn’t break your heart it isn’t love, no if it doesn’t break your heart, it’s not enough. It’s when you’re breaking down with your insides coming out; that’s when you find out what your heart is made of.   Yet—Switchfoot

This foolishness can leave the heart black and blue. Only love, only love, can leave such a mark. But only love, only Love, can heal such a scar.  Magnificent—U2.

Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free to be more like the man you were made to be.  Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons.

Loving God—Insights from Bernard of Clairvaux

In the 10th century, Bernard of Clairvaux wrote on the love of God. When asked to explain why and how God should be loved, Bernard wrote, “The reason for loving God is God Himself: the way is to love Him beyond measure.”  If you spend a few moments reflecting on that, you will begin to sense how profound a statement that is.  “I see no other worthy reason for loving Him except Himself,”  continued the monk. In all good things about being human, our dignity, knowledge, virtue, we must look to God as the source. For example, our dignity exists only because the Creator of the Universe gave us free will in order that we might have dominion over the Creation.  Our knowledge is something that dwells within us, but that is certainly not from ourselves. Finally, our virtue is that which clings to the God in a manner that prevents us from being separated from Him once we are found. “And so dignity without knowledge is of no avail; it is even a hindrance if virtue is lacking, as the following reasoning makes clear. What glory can one have in possessing what he does not know that he possesses? Furthermore, to know what you have while not knowing that it does not come from yourself begets glory but not in the sight of God.” Said in more accessible terms, having free will without recognizing that it comes from God, and failing to use that free will to desperately cling to God, results in  self-glorification— and certainly wrong focus. It results in our sinful selves, in our narcissistic  self centeredness, in our desire to gain the glory that God alone deserves.

Quotes from On the Love of God and Other Selected Writings—St. Bernard of Clairvaux