In John 15:12-13 Jesus says to His disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (NKJV) Of course, we know that Jesus laid down His life for us and chose to die on a cross so men could be saved from the penalty of sin, which is eternal separation from God the Father. He literally laid down His life. Is He saying that we are to do that, too? And, apart from the brave men and women who put their lives on the line in active duty both here and abroad, would very many of us have such an opportunity to chose death so someone else could live?
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that there are many kinds of “death,” many ways to “lay down one’s life.” I can choose not to self-preserve regarding my reputation, my agenda, my personal comfort. I can lay down my preferences, my opinions, my resources for the sake of another. The example Jesus gave us is counter intuitive, counter cultural, and entirely self-less in a world and age that often seems entirely entitled to all things “self.”
A life laid down in obedience to His command that we love each other the way He loves us experiences a richer life beyond the moment of death. When I make the slightest deference to another’s preferences, and I do so with a heart full of love (a glad and willing heart), I experience a greater capacity to live and thrive. In other words, I participate in the resurrection of Jesus, and by faith I can hear the Father saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Truly, the love of God never fails.
Lord, your love is a firm foundation, and I know that you desire me to build my life on it. Show me who you really are, fill me with your heart of love, and open my eyes to every opportunity to participate in your love for all the ones you bring across my path in this journey of life. I believe that your love never fails and that you are worthy of all my desire. Transform me into the image of Christ as I learn to delight to do your will each day. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Dear friend, who are you trying to love well? What are some of the challenges you face in doing so? The love of God is not human love. It cannot fail. Believe that His love for you has been placed in you by His Holy Spirit, so that you can make selfless choices and live beyond yourself. Take some time this week to review the verses in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and write a prayer of gratitude that God’s own love is shed abroad in your heart to enable you to love others the way He loves you.
Until next week, abide in the love of God and walk in that love for others as He works in you to will and to do His own good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)