Yesterday, we talked about the first of four things that love is not, and that’s enabling. Today, I want to look at the second thing that love isn’t, which is martyrdom. Now, when I use this word, I’m not referring to those who give their lives for the sake of their faith, for there is no truer form of love than that. I’m speaking of the tendency that many of us have to assume an attitude of self-pity in our relationships. If things don’t go like we think they should or if a person hurts or offends us, we feel sorry for ourselves and try to make them bear the brunt of our pain. However, this is not a demonstration of Godly love. I have a friend named Ander, and he used to go down regularly to feed and care for the homeless. He invited me to go with him on several occasions, and when I finally took him up on it, there was a particular man I was drawn to who seemed especially grateful for the help. When I found out that he was on drugs and had abused women, I was disappointed, so I let self-pity prevail and told my friend that I wasn’t going to help anymore because it wasn’t doing any good. Responding in true tough love, he gently reminded me of how many times the Lord had forgiven me, and I was suddenly forced to surrender my attitude of martyrdom.
My friend, your Savior poured extravagant love into your life by enduring pain and suffering for your sake, so you can do the same for others. Even if the ones you care about let you down, resolve to believe the best and continue serving them with gentle humility. Set boundaries and don’t subject yourself to abuse, but whenever possible, let the offenses of people roll off your back, and carry the torch of tough love into their midst so that they, too, can learn about the One who gave everything on their behalf. Surrender the mantle of martyrdom and you will learn even more about what it means to live and walk like Jesus did!