As I mentioned in the last post, the Gospel is the ultimate picture of love. While we were still his enemies of God, Jesus died for us. His sacrifice of laying aside heaven and becoming man and dying on the cross is the greatest display of love. We receive his gift of grace freely. Of course, the gift itself was very costly to God. It wasn’t free to him; it cost him his life. That brings us to a main characteristic of love: True love sacrifices and lays down its life for others.
Romans says 5: 6-11 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Here, Paul is pointing out that it is hard for men to be courageous enough to die for a good person. Paul is hinting at the currency of the world. He is saying that even the bravest of men could die for good men, and many have. But Christ laid down his life for us despite our merit. We were his enemies and He laid his life down out of the greatest love to reconcile us back to God.
In a similar way, we honor God by laying our life down for others. We don’t do this to earn God’s favor or prove our good works. No, we lay our life down to display the ridiculous glory of God’s unmerited grace. When we lay our life down for others, we are showing them love through sacrifice. Now, in our modern Western world, laying our life down for others may not mean physically giving our lives in death (although it could), but the laying down of our life is no less important.
A friend lays down their life when they offer kind words or forgiveness to someone who has wronged them. A pregnant mother lays down her life as she physically offers up her body to carry another, enduring the suffering that comes with child birth. A father lays down his life for his family by working hard (sometimes) late hours and nights to provide for them. A neighbor lays down his life for his neighbor by providing food or comfort during hard times or by offering grace when they’re having a party later than you’d like.
Laying down your life for another might mean honoring a difficult boss by working steadfastly at a job that God has given you instead of just dialing it in. Laying down your life for another might mean staying up late with a sick child instead of sleeping yourself. Laying down your life for another might mean bearing with another church member and forgiving their sin against you. Laying down your life for another might mean paying for their dinner as an act of unmerited grace. Laying down your life for another might mean laboring and spending time (despite your exhaustion) choosing gifts, making special food and creating an exciting atmosphere for your loved ones on Christmas.
No matter what the sacrifice is, Christ invites each of us to lay our life down for those near us this Christmas. The cost may vary, but the love is beautiful. When we give others the gift of our loving service freely without grumbling or complaining, we are honoring and celebrating the love God. We are saying to the world, “God is greater that myself and I want to share that love with others.”