It came to me when I was reading John 10–that this Jesus is big enough and good enough to trust because He sacrificed a lot. I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
Giving His life is sacrifice, and proves His love. The lines from Ugo Bassi come to mind: Love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice/And he who suffereth most hath most to give.
It is (relatively) easy to act as if we love someone. One proof of love is in its sacrifice. But I Corinthians 13 says I could sacrifice, give away my belongings or give up my life, without love. And I have seen selfishness masquerading as love.
So what is love? Is it only sacrifice? Jesus must have expected the question, because He explained the difference between Love and Apparent Love: the hired man runs away because he doesn’t care about the sheep, but the shepherd stays and offers his life.
Love doesn’t run away, doesn’t detour conflict, doesn’t look for an easy escape when things get scary. Paul defined love as suffering long–quite the opposite from running away. Christ’s sacrifice and His tenacity prove His love. God sacrificed, gave up, risked endlessly, at incredible cost.
My only reasonable response is worship: love, surrender, sacrifice. The proof of my love for Him is when I am finished with meeting God as if at a drive-through window and ordering super-sized pleasures. Instead, I must meet Him an altar (the place of sacrifice) acknowledging His love, and pledging mine. And I know that I can never out-love Him.