Thursday, July 10, 2008

Greater Love

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” –John 15:13

Can you imagine giving your life up for someone? I mean, we would all like to think we could. But if it REALLY came down to sacrificing your own life for someone else’s, could you do it? I don’t think I could. I know there are countless heroes that have been able to make that call in the heat of a battle; mothers who have been found sheltering their kids under their bodies in natural disasters, and best friends willing to sacrifice an organ and possibly die in surgery to save a friend. Friends, I hate to tell you- but if you are looking for that kind of friend- I am probably NOT it!

Shame on me! Didn’t I just read that scripture verse? It was about all that greater love and friendship stuff. I love my friends, but I don’t know that I could give up my life for them. What about my kids? Would it be fair to them? I have dreams and ambitions. Could I put a screeching halt to my life for someone else? Jesus did….. OUCH!!!

As I thought about the verse in John last night, it hit me differently than ever before. What if Jesus wasn’t talking about laying down life like we imagine? What if He wasn’t talking about having to literally die for a friend? Of course, that is the greatest love and the greatest gift. That is why Jesus is the salvation of the world. But what if He was talking about laying down your life in a different context?

Some synonyms for “lay” are put down, place, rest, arrange and position. What if Jesus meant we need to show love to our friends by arranging time with them? What if He meant to show love we need to arrange our friends’ lives ahead of our own? What if He meant that the best way to show a friend love was to prioritize them… to lay down the aspects of our own life and just be there (even if it does seem uncomfortable or like an inconvenience).

Our ladies group talked about what it takes to be a true friend. Some in the group were worried about hurting as they faced a sick friend; some felt a bit neglected and unloved; but one thing we all agreed on was how loved we felt when someone else puts their life on hold for us.

Maybe what Jesus was talking about in John 15:13 is that the greatest love we can have is by putting others first. Isn’t that what Jesus did? Not just when He died on the cross, but His entire ministry. He took the time out of His busy schedule to let little children sit on His lap; to spend time talking to the woman at the well, and to even let a doubting disciple place hands on His freshly made scars.

The next time a friend calls wanting to grab a coffee, needing a babysitter, or wanting a break from their wayward teen… ask yourself if you are willing to LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE for your friend. I think the more we practice this kind of sacrifice, the more love will grow for our friends; and the more we’ll become like Jesus.

Lord, you know in our hearts whether we could literally give our life to another.
Help us to examine our relationships with friends and
make it a point to give something up for a friend this week.

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