Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Of course, when He made that statement, Jesus was directly referring to the fact that He was about to literally lay down His life for His friends. Jesus was about to literally lay down His life for the entire world and its sins. Is that necessarily the application for all of us? In certain circumstances, it might be. Any one of us could encounter a situation where literally laying down one’s life might be an appropriate expression of ultimate love. What about the rest of us? What if we are never asked to literally sacrifice our lives for a friend? Are we just off the hook? Hardly! What, then, might it mean to lay down one’s life for a friend?
We live in a culture today where people won’t even lay down their thoughts, ideas and opinions for their fellow man, much less their lives. The United States, particularly, is a “me” culture. “Looking out for number 1,” “If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody will.” These are all reflections of the way we are. Yet, Jesus’ still said to lay down one’s life for friends is the ultimate expression of love.
We can do this by making others’ needs more important than our own. Jesus did that for us; He gave up his rightful place in Heaven to come here, live as a man, suffer and die just because our need for a savior was so great. Next time you have a situation where two needs are presented and only one can be met, meet your brother or sister’s need and let yours go unmet.
We can do this by forgiving. People wrong us; that is simply a fact. Scripture teaches us over and over that we are to forgive. Jesus asked His Father to forgive the very people killing him on the cross in Luke 23:34. We simply have to learn to forgive the same way; we need to forgive no matter the seriousness of the offense that is committed against us
We can do this by sacrificing for others. Not only might we be required to meet another person’s need and leave ours unmet, but we might actually have to give up something of our own to meet their need. Maybe you have plans but a brother or sister has a need; give up your plans and be there for them.
We can do this by meeting the needs of people who don’t deserve it and cannot or will not do a thing for us. Some folks don’t deserve help. Some are not capable of doing anything for us in return. Some are capable, but in our hearts, we know they wouldn’t give us a fire extinguisher if we burst into flames. Help them anyway.
Laying down one’s life for friends is similar to Jesus’ mandate that we pick up our cross and follow Him. He didn’t mean for us to literally pick up a cross, and He probably didn’t mean, in most cases, for us to literally die for or friends. Jesus was setting a pattern for us here, and in our efforts to be Christlike, we should follow that pattern.
Who have we laid our lives down for today? If the day is just starting, who will we lay down or lives for today?