by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17, ESV).

A few years ago, well actually several years, well, in all honesty, many years ago, I was a fairly talented Martial Artist. I was ranked in several styles of karate and had won many local tournaments and competitions. As one might imagine, this took numerous hours of work, commitment, and dedication. For years and years, I practiced moves, kata, sparring, the heavy bag, grappling, etc., day after day after day. However, without guidance on proper technique, it would all have been for nothing; it would have been simply a waste of precious time. But during that time I was fortunate enough to have a handful of self-sacrificing, caring, and diligent sensei (instructors).

These days it's hard to find the kind of self-sacrificing, dedicated and committed sensei (instructors) I was fortunate enough to have had in my training. Most of what you find today are greedy instructors charging immense sums of money guaranteeing a black belt in a certain number of years and/or months. It has become increasingly commercialized. They promise “private” lessons that will cut down the time needed in training because you will be working directly with the “master” for only $200, $300 or even $1,000 a month.

Thankfully, those who trained me had no such greed or selfishness. Each and every sensei I had charged a fixed amount, but if you couldn't afford it they made a personal arrangement with you. Even during times I was unable to pay anything, each of them would rather have me in class training than being prohibited from training simply due to finances. They were selfless. They were pure martial artists. They sacrificed their time over and over again, paid or not, to make sure you received the best training possible without thought to what they had to give up to ensure success for their students.

Most of you can probably already see where I am going with this. The sacrifice all of these sensei shared with me reminds me greatly of God's selfless love. Of course, it's on a much smaller scale in comparison to what God has done, but God gave up his very best for us – his own Son, Jesus Christ, so that we could have eternal life. God gave us the ultimate and extreme demonstration of self-denial and also gave us a pattern of selfless love to attempt to follow. When we put the needs, and even happiness, of others before our own needs and happiness, we are like a mirror reflecting the deep love God shows to each one of us.

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