Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love Is ... Laying Down Your Life


I thought it would be appropriate to share some thoughts on love since since this is the month that contains Valentine's Day. After all, this is the season of romantic gestures such as cards, flowers and candy. But what does love really look like in real life?

As I mulled that one over, I remembered a scripture about love:

John 15:12-15 New King James Version (NKJV)12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.


Few of us will be called to physically lay down our lives for another; but in this season of emphasizing love, I’d like to discuss what the very real sacrifice of laying down your life means in day to day life.

First, let’s talk about for whom we should lay down our lives:

·        God
·        Spouse
·        Family
·        Brethren (Church family)
·        Neighbor

And then let’s talk about how we do that!

God:

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 New King James Version (NKJV)“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

This is part of praying The Shema – the passage from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 that tells us what God wants from us. Jesus quoted the same passage when He was asked what the greatest commandment was:

Mark 12:29-30 New King James Version (NKJV)29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. ’This is the first commandment.

Laying down your life for God is equal to putting your all into loving Him – all your thoughts, effort and strength.

Is it a one-time action? No! Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, “I die daily.” Each day, you make the commitment to die to self (Another way of laying down your life!)

A practical way to lay down your life for Him:  give Him some of the time you usually use to do something you like.

Spouse:

God has clearly told us how we are to treat our spouses. Obeying often means laying down your life (giving up what you want to do!)

Ephesians 5:22, 25, 33 King James Version (KJV)
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Submitting, giving of yourself, reverencing – all tough things to do when you’re down in the nitty-gritty of life, surrounded by challenges and making a living.

I think it can be summed up best with this thought:  Put the other person first.

Family:

Let’s go back to the second half of The Shema:

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NLTAnd you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Talk about the Word constantly! Laying down your life to your family is teaching and discipling over and over even when the task seems thankless.

The Holy Spirit moved upon Paul to further instruct us:

Ephesians 6:4 NLTFathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

Parenting is like the ultimate tool God uses to make us more like Him. Laying down your life might mean sleepless nights comforting a sick child, making sure THEY have a good Christmas even if no one else does, cooking dinner when all you want to do is veg on the couch, and always considering them instead of doing what you really want to do. (To name just a few things a parent is called upon to do!)

Brethren (your brothers and sisters in Christ):

1 John 3:16 King James Version (KJV)16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Let’s talk practical real-life ideas where we can lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters:

For example, at one of my churches, Sister Sue was going to take over the Senior Adult Ministry, but she knew another church member really wanted to do it. She had recently suffered tremendous loss in her life and needed something to do to keep her mind occupied. So, the Sister Sue stepped aside, putting aside her plans for the ministry, and offered the office of Senior Adult Leader to the church member in need.

I would call that laying down your life.

I asked a friend if she could think of an example of laying down your life for the brethren. Here is what she came up with:

When there is a financial need and you only have enough to get you through to pay day which is a few days away and the Lord is telling you to give a certain amount to a brother. You give it even though it hurts. You put your brother or sister in Christ before your need.

I would call that laying down your life.

I was thinking of a testimony I read the other day. A lady's life was in shambles. A Christian sister watched the lady's kids after school each day and had dinner ready whenever the lady would pick them up. She would insist the lady eat with them. During the meal, and afterwards during clean up, she would pray with the lady and read scripture with her.

In other words, she was the friend that lady needed in her life.

I'd call that laying down your life.

What are some other things we that could be considered laying our life down for our church family?

·        Being a listening ear – even when you are busy or have your own things you’d like to talk about!

·        Interceding – not just a lay-me-down-to-sleep prayer – but wrestling in prayer until you get the victory.

·        Visiting them when in the hospital (or when one of their loved ones is ill)

·        Taking food when illness or death strikes

·        Attending visitation when a church member has lost a loved one

(Have you ever noticed these events always happen when your schedule is full to the brim, your grocery cupboard is bare and payday is next week? It’s called laying down your life!)

These are not always death-defying feats of devotion but saying no to our own schedules, giving up our own time, expending energy – maybe giving up precious sleep, all these are ways to love one another (something we are told to do twice in John 15 alone.)

I think this scripture that goes well with these thoughts:

Philippians 2:3-4 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselvesEveryone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

The kicker is it has to be done with the right motive, pure phileo love – brotherly love. If you do it for personal glory, you lost out on a blessing!

I also want to confess I’m not there yet! I strive to do these things; yet often I let my schedule and my energy level rob me of the blessing of doing what I know the Lord would want me to do.

Neighbor: Your neighbor is anyone with whom you come in contact

The story of the Good Samaritan is the ultimate in laying down your life for someone you encounter in your daily life.

LUKE 10:29-31 NKJV29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

The Samaritan laid down his time, effort and money for someone he met who was in need. Jesus tells us to do the same.

There's a world of people out there who need loving. I want to do all I can do to show His love. 

How about you? What are ways you can lay down your life for another?


~~~

I'm sharing at the Chasing Community,  #TellHisStory and Trekking Through the Week communities. So much good stuff at these sites!

3 comments:

Linda Stoll said...

Yes, yes. From end to end, God's Word is about His love for us ... and our love for Him and each other.

Thanks for bringing Valentine's Day right back to the One who shows us what true love is about day in and day out.

Bless you, Jerralea ...

Brenda said...

Such a good perspective, Jerralea. Thank you for sharing. (And, you're right, it does often seem that others need us when we feel we have the least to give. Praise God for His grace.)

Faith said...

and loving the unlovable! or the ones who don't quite match up with our own convictions and preference areas...such as the gay Christian, or the Christian struggling with sexual identity (reason I bring this up is this is the case with a young friend of mine who is trying to be a celibate gay.....and even though I have a different standard and viewpoint, I need to LOVE ON HIM!!!!!).