Summary: A Remembrance Day message asking us to recall that love is the motive for sacrifice.

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JOHN 15:13


“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.”

September 11, 2001 shocked a complacent world from its lethargy into enforced wakefulness. Before that day, police and fire fighters were often thought of as necessary nuisances. If nothing else, the events of that day snapped us from what could easily be described as a near universal somnambulation. We were forcibly compelled to acknowledge that we had taken for granted quiet heroes within our society.

As the twin towers of the World Trade Center fell into one massive heap of rubble, all free men and women grieved the loss of life. We North Americans grieved our loss of innocence. Most of all, we each grieved at the needless deaths of brave individuals—firemen and police officers—who died risking their lives so that others might live. The bravery of those who entered those burning buildings is no longer taken for granted, but rather review of the events has only enhanced their valour. Similarly, Canada’s military men and women who serve today in Afghanistan remind us that we dare not assume they are any less than courageously serving for our benefit.

There is in this statement from the Saviour instruction revealing God’s grace toward our fallen race. Courage and love may be confused in the sacrifice of one individual in the place of another, for love compels courage. Without question, we who are Christians will benefit from examination of these precious commodities. May God make us willing to express our gratitude for the courage of quiet heroes among us, and may He make us a people that love others deeply from the heart. Join me in exploration of the twin issues of love and courage.

EVIDENCE OF LOVE — Whatever else may be evident from the statement of the Saviour, an individual’s willingness to sacrifice himself for another is evidence of love. However, death is not of itself an indication of love. There may be many reasons an individual would die—even willingly. I speak cautiously and with deepest humility in saying that motives are seldom pure. Rather, multiple motives may be thrown together leading an individual to the supreme sacrifice.

Peer pressure may cause an individual to sacrifice his life. I don’t necessarily mean this in a negative sense. I refer to the sacrifice of brave individuals who have willingly given their lives for members of their own unit during times of war or trauma.

On May 6, 1970, Lance Corporal James Howe, together with two other marines, was occupying a defensive position in a sandy beach area in Vietnam. Enemy sappers suddenly launched a grenade attack against the position, utilising the cover of darkness to carry out their assault. Lance Corporal Howe and his comrades moved to a more advantageous position in order to return suppressive fire. When an enemy grenade landed in their midst, Lance Corporal Howe immediately shouted a warning and then threw himself on the deadly missile, absorbing the blast with his own body.

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