What are some of the greatest love stories you’ve heard? What comes to mind are probably stories like Romeo and Juliet. You know, those dramatic stories of a couple overcoming all odds to be together.
Love stories like this are fine. Entertaining, at the very least. But honestly, these aren’t the stories I’d consider the greatest love stories. I think the greatest love stories are often not romantic – and this is especially true of the greatest love of all.
The best part is that the greatest love of all isn’t just a story. It’s a love that we can receive and emulate every single day. It shapes us and defines us. What is it that makes this love so great and powerful?
What Makes Love Great?
The greatest love of all is the love of our God – the shared love for us from our Father and our Savior. They care for us, help us, heal us, and teach us. Their goodness and mercy touch us each day. But there’s one thing that defines Their love most – sacrifice.
As much as God loves us, that love would mean much less without the knowledge that our Father and our Savior have sacrificed everything for us. Every part of Their plan, every choice They’ve made (no matter how painful) was for us.
Our Father chose to give us agency. He chose to give us our best shot at becoming the best beings we can be by helping us progress and become like Him. But to give us that opportunity, He had to be willing to let us choose not to return to Him. He had to risk sacrificing His children so that we could become like Him. But again, He wanted to give us our best chance, so He also had to sacrifice His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for the debt of sin that we would never be able to pay ourselves. Our Father’s choice to sacrifice for us is a testament of His great love.
Our Savior has also sacrificed infinitely for each of us. He chose to sacrifice Himself, more even than justice required to pay our debt. He suffered not just for our sins, but for our afflictions and sorrows and injustices. He sacrificed His life so that we could live again.
The kindness, succoring, and healing that we receive from Christ is already incredible love, but to factor in His sacrifices for us as well proves that His love for us is incomparable. None of us will ever find a love greater than the love our God gives each of us.
The Love Christ Expects Us to Give
I think we’re all familiar with Christ’s admonition to love others, but I also love the verses after as well:
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.John 15:12-13
We learn two things from Christ’s direction in these verses. First, we are expected to love as Christ loves, and second, the greatest love we can give is sacrifice.
When Christ asks us to love as He loves, He doesn’t mean perform the exact same sacrifices He did. But He does mean that we need to be open to service, be willing to accept people as they are and help them grow from there, and be advocates of truth. We need to show kindness and support, offer healing when possible, and see people as God’s children first.
And, of course, He means that we need to be willing to sacrifice for others. Those sacrifices can range from sacrificing time to, yes, sacrificing our lives if necessary. These sacrifices prove our love for others more than any other action can. And our love will never be more Christ-like than when we willingly make sacrifices for others with no expectation of return.
The greatest love stories, in my opinion, represent this kind of love – the love of sacrifice. And of course, the greatest of these stories is the story of Christ. His life, His mission, His Atonement all make for the greatest love story that ever could exist.