What it Means to Lay Our Lives Down for One Another

What it Means to Lay Our Lives Down for One Another

There are many television shows and movies that depict an incredible sacrifice. War movies often contain characters who put their life on the line to ensure that a fellow soldier’s life is spared. A drama might show a mother who throws herself into oncoming traffic to make sure her little one who went into the street is safe. Medical shows can involve a friend or family member donating one of their organs so a loved one can be healthy. We may marvel at the sacrifices we see on the screen but wonder what it looks like to make sacrifices for others in our own life. 


Today is Memorial Day, an American holiday that honors those who laid their life down for their country. As we reflect on the sacrifices people have made in the past, we can consider what the Bible says about the sacrifices we are called to make as followers of Christ. In John 15:12–13, Jesus says, “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, exhorting them to reflect His love to others. Yet this love involves sacrifice. Jesus points forward to His oncoming death on the cross by showing how the greatest act of love is seen in sacrifice. Jesus demonstrated the greatest act of love by laying down His life on the cross for us. John goes on to say in 1 John 3:16 that “This is how we have come to know love: He laid down his life for us.”


Jesus demonstrated His love for us by dying on the cross | TDGC

But the verse in 1 John 3:16 does not end there. John goes on to write, “We should also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” We might find ourselves a bit confused by John’s words here, and wonder: Is John saying that we should die for others? But the sacrifice John is referring to in this verse involves giving up something for the sake of others. It involves putting others before ourselves without asking for anything in return. As David Jackman writes in his commentary on John’s letters: “It is the nature of God’s love to give, just as it is the nature of the sun to shine. And that love is the mark of a faith that is real. It touches our bank accounts and our diaries. It governs the stewardship of our time and talents, our energy and our possessions” (100–101).


So we lay our lives down for others by loving them sacrificially, choosing to give up our time, energy, and resources. Ultimately, we do this so that others can see Christ’s love reflected in our actions. Our sacrifices for others point to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Our giving reflects Christ’s giving of Himself so that we could be saved and forgiven. 


We lay our lives down for others through sacrificial love | TDGC
Our sacrifices for others point to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross | TDGC

We must be honest with ourselves, however, that it is often difficult to make sacrifices for others. We typically find ourselves wanting others to serve us rather than us serving them. We battle our sinful flesh that desires to be self-serving rather than self-sacrificing. But in the moments we struggle to make sacrifices for others, we can choose to reflect on the gospel. When we meditate on the gospel, we are reminded of Christ’s great sacrifice for us. As we reflect on what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are moved to love others like He did through our sacrificial actions. Not only this, but as believers, we can remember that we have received God’s love through Christ. As we reflect on the love we have been given, God’s love for us will overflow out of us and toward others. 


So on this Memorial Day, let us consider how we can lay our lives down for others in our everyday lives. Let us ask the Lord to give us opportunities to make sacrifices for others and rely on the Holy Spirit inside of us to make those sacrifices. May the sacrifices of those in the past point us to Christ’s sacrifice, moving us to lay ourselves down so that Christ’s love shines forth through us. 


Additional Resources:

Reasons to Remember


David Jackman, The Message of John’s Letters: Living in the Love of God, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 100–101.


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