I have heard parents tell there children, “I love you this much” as they spread their arms open wide. I have heard people tell their spouse that they love them. Parents often tell their children that they love them. And I am sure once in a while the children actually tell their parents they love them too. However, there are also times that I hear of people who do not think that their spouse loves them. Or as a teacher more commonly I hear that their parents or guardians do not love them. Yet as I have continued to ponder what it means to love someone in my own life, I have been faced with the reality that I really had no clue what it really means to love someone.

This is a rather sad think to admit, being a Christian I should know what love is after all the two greatest commandments are: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:37, 39)” So what is love and how do we measure how much someone loves us, or more importantly how much we love someone else?

The Bible says that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8). We are not simply told that God is a loving God, but that if you could summarize the character of God it could be done in one word: love. Therefore, if we are to understand what true love looks like we must consider first and foremost what God looks like. For true love can only flow from a God like character thus we are told “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 Jn 4:7-8). Thus there must be a parallel between growth in love and growth into the image of Jesus Christ.

For the time being let me limit myself to the foundational ground upon which love must be based: self-sacrifice. For we see that the ultimate demonstration of God’s love was the sacrifice of His Son for the sins of those who would believe. Consider the following verses:

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

Thus measure of our love is not measured by how much we do for someone else, but how much we give up for them. If you want to measure your love, you must consider how much have you given up for someone else. Christ Himself has told us “Greater lovehas no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). You and I will not ever grow in love in less we grow in the laying down of our own lives. Greater love means greater sacrifice. If there is no sacrifice, there is likely no love. So how do you measure up?