Thursday, April 14, 2011

Laying Down My Life

12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.
~ John 15:12-13

Jesus tells us to love each other and then clarifies what that looks like by saying the greatest way to love one another is to lay down your life. What does Jesus mean by this? When Jesus laid down his life on the cross it meant we had a way to be forgiven from our sins. Romans 3:23-24 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." He laid down his rights and instead put our needs before his own.

In our safe, suburban San Ramon Valley, how do we lay down our lives for others? I think the biggest way is by forgiving them. Are there people in your life who have hurt you or offended you? Jesus calls us to love and forgive everyone. As Tim Keller writes in The Reason for God, "forgiveness is always a form of costly suffering." Keller states there is a debt that you are absorbing and you are taking the cost of it completely on yourself instead of taking it out on the other person. It can hurt terribly but this is what Jesus did for us. He suffered so that we could be forgiven.

The strength and desire to forgive should come from an overflow of our love for God, not because it's something we feel we should do in order to be a good Christian. I identify with this quote from Francis Chan's Crazy Love: "The irony is that while God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don't really want Him most of the time. He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him-and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by." I need to remind myself daily of the great cost of Christ's sacrifice! He died for me! Our response should be gratitude that overflows in love and causes us to want to follow Him. This love for God gives us the strength to live as He did and forgive others.

Another way to lay down our lives for others is to put their needs before our own. In Philippians 2:3-5, Paul writes, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus." Whether that be something small, like letting someone in front of you in traffic or in the grocery store, or as large as sharing credit for a project at work or paying for a school or orphanage to be built in a third world country, we need to think of others' needs more than our own. That is not something that comes naturally. We need God's help.

1. Is there anyone who you need to forgive?
2. How can you put others needs before your own today?
3. Pray for God to reveal himself to you and for you to realize how much you truly need God.

About the Author
Jen Scales Morlan married Brian Morlan in May 2009 and they live in San Ramon. Jen has been helping with the high school youth group since 2004 and looks forward to going on another Mexico trip this year. She and Brian are a part of the 20s/30s group and participate in a small group. Jen works for Allstate Insurance as a Senior Claims Service Adjuster.

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