Greater love has no one than this: to lay down ones life for ones friends (John 15: 13)
When I truly take the time to sit back and self reflect, the things I notice about myself are shocking. It simply blows my mind just how selfish I can be. For example, I might come home after a long, hard day at work and my wife feels like having a deep conversation with me about how she is feeling. I can actually find ways in those moments to reason that it is perfectly within my rights to just not feel like listening to her because I’m tired. Another example might be that a friend calls me late at night wanting to talk about something important, and I can convince myself that it is more important in the grand scheme of things for me to get a good night of sleep than to help him in his time of need.
That may sound awful, but if we all take an honest look at ourselves as human beings, we will all probably notice some similar issues. The truth of the matter is that we are all naturally sinful. We all have an instinctive desire to look after ourselves first. The gospel describes as as sinners who need a savior, not righteous men and women who are oh so deserving of salvation.
To this point you are probably reading this and thinking that this is kind of depressing. I promise that I am coming to the good part! Remember, it’s called the “good” news not the “bad” news. The good news is simply this, yes you are a selfish sinner, but the sacrifice of Christ on that cross enabled you to rise above that selfishness and live an unselfish life. When He died and was resurrected, Jesus made available to us the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead. The Holy Spirit now dwells inside of us. Therefore, we no longer have the excuse of hiding behind our selfishness.
Love demands sacrifice. The sacrifice that Christ made for us, not only demands that we sacrifice for others, but it empowers us to do so. It demands it so much that Jesus would say, “Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it” (Matthew 10: 39). Would He really ask us to hand over our lives to Him? Would Jesus really ask us to sacrifice our entire lives, lay them at His feet, and allow Him to use us to further the gospel? The answer is yes, Jesus would ask that. The real question is why would we agree to those terms? Well, there is only one reason. That reason is that we have personally experienced His unparalleled love for us. We have come face to face with our selfishness and seen just how hopeless we are without Him, only for Him to respond in the most loving and forgiving way possible. Jesus sacrificed everything for us when we were still those selfish sinners.
The gospel can demand sacrifice from us, because at the heart of the gospel is the greatest sacrifice we will ever see. Thankfully, God didn’t stop there. He didn’t just require sacrifice, but He also empowered us with His Holy Spirit to help live it out. Who is that person that you know God is calling you to sacrifice for, but you know that it is going to require a lot of you if you do? It might just be the person at the coffee shop that you don’t know, but you feel led to buy him/her a cup of coffee. Maybe it’s someone very important in your life that God is calling you to reach out to and forgive. I don’t know what God is putting on your heart, but you do. The only thing I want to point out to you today is that YOU CAN. You can get past your selfishness and sacrifice your time, money, reputation, comfort, etc. to show them the love of Christ. You can sacrifice for another, because God sacrificed for you.
We love because He first loved us (1 John 4: 19)