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.1 John 3:16 (KJV)
We see the love that God, that Jesus, has because He “laid down his life”–He died–for us. He gave up His desires, His self, His very life–for us.
The verse goes on to say that we should lay down our lives for the brethren, for other Christians. Now, for us here in America, it’s not very likely that we’ll have to actually die for our fellow believers.
But there’s so much more to laying down our lives than simply dying.
Laying down our lives means laying down our pride. It means not thinking of myself as better than “that person” and not caring what others may think of what I do. It means being willing to look silly or to get dirty and sweaty.
Laying down our lives means laying down our opinions. It means not judging someone because they don’t think or believe all the same things I do. It means sometimes keeping my mouth shut, and doing what someone else wants to do instead of what I want to do.
Laying down our lives means laying down our time. It means not doing some things I wanted to do so that I can help someone else. It means saying, “Forget that I’m tired, that I want some alone time, that I was hoping to do such-and-such… This person needs me.”
Laying down our lives means laying down our money. It means not being a tight-wad or being greedy. It means buying gifts and supplies for others and donating.
Laying down our lives means laying down our desires and plans. It means not holding on to what I want to do or what I was planning to do. It means giving up some of my dreams in order to do what God wants me to do.
And laying down our lives sometimes means laying down our normal lives. I’m reading a book about a young American woman who “quit” her life in order to live and serve in Uganda. She left her family and boyfriend, quit going to school (I think she eventually graduated though), gave up pretty much everything familiar. Why? Because she felt God calling her.
Now, we won’t all be called to give up everything we know and move to a completely different continent!–but God does call each of us to get out of our comfort zones. Laying down our lives means laying down what is normal and comfortable for us. It means stepping out, getting involved; it means we may not always know what’s going to happen next, but we still trust the Almighty and Wise King.
We see God’s love because He laid down His life for us. What if others come to see His love because we lay down our pride, time, money, plans, etc.?