“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13 NIV).
. . . all the days or years we have left are really ever only 'a little more time to love'.
We usually see this verse as a salute to those who have lost their lives through unbelievable acts of heroism. There’s the soldier who hurls himself onto a grenade to protect his mate or the surfer who gives up her board to the desperate stranger swept out to sea.
There’s no diminishing this sort of self-sacrifice. However, dying for somebody else isn’t the only way of showing the “greater love” Jesus was describing.
Few of us will ever face the choice of taking a bullet for a friend but that doesn’t free us from the call to lay down our lives. Life, after all, is so much more than breaths and heartbeats.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s [happiness, enjoyment, comfort, success, plans, desires, dreams] for his friends” (John 15:12,13).
The idea of sacrificing such things is difficult, and doesn’t come naturally. Society itself is hell-bent on convincing us that our top priority should be our own pursuit of happiness. And we’ve gladly bought into the lie—at the expense of a lot of time, effort and relationships.
Christians, though, were never meant to conform to the “pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2). We are called to love—and “love” by its very definition “is not self-seeking” (1 Corinthians 13:4). It is a “steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained” (C S Lewis).
“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” (Philippians 2:3,4 NIV).
We need only look at the life of Christ to discover what “greater love” and self-sacrifice really mean. For not only did He lay down His life on the cross but throughout the 33 years He spent on this earth.
For Jesus, it was never about Himself—He was only focused on the will of the Father and the salvation of sinners. It’s amazing to think the Creator of the universe never placed Himself at the centre of it! But that’s the persona He adopted and it’s one He prescribes to each one of us.
Does that mean we shouldn’t seek happiness or chase dreams? No. But if our pursuits are void of love and only lead to personal gain, then perhaps we need to step away from them. The Bible says our lives are nothing but “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). Thus, all the days or years we have left are really ever only “a little more time to love” (Steven Curtis Chapman).
“The measure of a Christian is not in the height of his grasp but in the depth of his love” (Clarence Jordan).
You don’t have to die in order to show the world “greater love” but you do have to sacrifice. Choose to lay down your life today—there’s no greater thing you will ever do.
Linden Chuang is assistant editor—digital of Adventist Record.