this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. [1 john 3:16]
as the world looks to constantly redefine love, the bible makes this very clear. the definition of love is Jesus Christ. this verse says he laid down his life for us. we know he died for us, but what else does that mean? in philippians 2:6-8, we see that Jesus was perfectly obedient to God the Father. even though Jesus was God, he didn’t want to use that to his own advantage. so he humbled himself. he clothed himself in helpless human flesh, as a baby, allowed sinners to raise him into manhood while being fully God. he spent his life drawing people to himself and the Father. he served, taught, and set a perfect example with humble authority. then he was willingly murdered. a painful death on a cross, even giving up his oneness with his Father for the time that he bore the sins of the world, my sin, as he died. he laid down everything so that God would be glorified through a restored relationship with his people. this is love. take a minute and thank Jesus for the depth of his love for you.
so what does it look like to lay our lives down for others? it probably doesn’t mean dying. Jesus’ death is what we needed for salvation. since others don’t need our death, we have to look at how to give our life. this means no longer living life for ourselves, but to help others better reflect God’s glory. this is our calling in marriage, in parenting, in singleness, in the classroom, in the work place, with friends, with family… we are called to enable others to reflect God’s glory. and as God’s glory shines through the work he’s doing in our own hearts, this is what others will see. as we forgive, they will see God as forgiving. as we make time for others, they will see God as available, accessible. as we choose joy over complaining, we show God’s joy. as we show patience with others, they will know God’s patience. when we lovingly call out sin and point others back to Jesus, they’ll see that God is faithful. as we stick with others through their mess or their struggle, they’ll see God as long suffering. as we labor in love, we’ll reflect God’s labor of love.
laying down our life for others means pursuing them in love to glorify our Father. it was never meant to be easy. actually, it’s sure to rub us every wrong way as our flesh fights back with its own selfish desire to make our life easy, claim our own time, sit in our own comfort. but as Jesus reminds us of all the ways he laid his own comfort aside to allow us to reflect God’s glory, then in pure joy, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can lay our own lives down for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
~ arwen eastman