"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." 1 Corinthians 1:3
You can make lots of sacrifices, you can give your life to religious service, you can give your life to helping other, you can even lay down your life for your belief, but if you don't do it out of your love for God, then it profits you nothing. You see, it's not what you do, but why you do what you do. It all boils down to motive. Motive is always at the heart of the matter, and the motive of true Christianity should always be love.
There are a lot of people who aren't Christians who do good works. Lots of people who aren't Christians are laying down their lives for their religious beliefs. But many of them do it because it makes them feel good or feel good about themselves. Some do it hoping for some sort of approval, recognition or reward in return. When Christians do good deeds or lay their lives down for their belief, it's because our motive goes deeper than just the joy that we feel or the reward that we know we will receive one day- it's on a different level.
At the heart of our motive is a desire to reveal God to others. Our greatest expression of love toward Him is to reflect His nature and character of love, compassion, goodness and grace to others in the things we do, in the sacrifices we make, in the service we give so that those who don't know Him will get a true picture of who He is. That is the motive that sets us apart- a love for God that causes us to live in such a way that will cause others to desire Him.
Have a great day. Motive is always at the heart of the matter. Is your motive behind what you do based out of your love for God?
For further reading:
1 Corinthians 13