What is the ultimate expression of love?
To an audience bogged down under the load of several hundred commandments, Jesus announced, “This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.” And then He continued, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:12-13).
Three chapters later, after praying fervently on behalf of His friends, Jesus literally lays His life down in a history-altering demonstration of love.
It is profoundly interesting that all of Christ’s disciples, save John who was exiled, are martyred for their faith. Since that time, hundreds of thousands have died in the advancement of the Gospel. In fact, there were more followers of Jesus killed in the twentieth century than in the previous nineteen centuries combined!
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay his life down for his friends.”
In all likelihood, I will not be asked to die for my faith or my friend. And honestly, there is nothing in Scripture saying that I must physically die for my faith or my friend in order to advance the Gospel.
However, Jesus plainly states, “Love one another,” and the clear implication is that laying our lives down for each other demonstrates love more profoundly than anything else we do or say. Even if we shower hugs, kisses, and declarations of love upon those within our sphere, laying down our lives speaks the loudest.
What does this sacrifice look like?
There are many ways to lay your life down without spilling your blood. (Now that is good news!) I think of laying my life down as synonymous with giving my life away. In theological terms, if Christ is my life—which He is (Col. 3:4)—then I can never go bankrupt giving Him away to another.
In practical terms, parents give their lives away by spending quality and quantity time with their children. You give your life away when you take time to pray with/for someone. By actively listening to your friends and spouse, you give your life away.
Nearly anything we do to engage people on meaningful levels of compassion, concern, and care constitutes giving our lives to them, demonstrating our love for them, i.e. laying our lives down so that they can discover more of life, which is Christ.
Typically, the ways in which your Heavenly Father has gifted you will offer a clue as to how He will most often use you to love someone else.
From the above examples, you can clearly see that giving your time is often a key element in giving your life and demonstrating your love. Time is also money. Investing your money in others is a practical means to demonstrate your commitment to love them.
Another way you give your life away is through endorsement. Every time you recommend or refer or lend your reputation to someone, you give your life away.
Be yourself. Take inventory of who you are, how God has wired you, and the places He puts you. Consider how you can give your life away, and in so doing, love as Jesus loved.
Remember: The greatest love you can show is to lay your life down for another.