Who then are those who principally labour for the good of humanity in general, and who set themselves universal tasks in later incarnations? They are those who in earlier incarnations, have in some way or other died a death of sacrifice. The devotional natures, those given up to the spiritual here on the earth, owe this to their life of martyrdom in a previous incarnation. The earth could not progress unless people sacrificed themselves.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 157a – The Forming of Destiny and Life after Death – Lecture 3 – Berlin, 20th November 1915
Painting by Richard Pollak