John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
I recently attended a concert and was blessed to receive a special gift from a man who sat nearby. As we were seated awaiting the concert to begin this man and his daughter sat next to us, more specifically, my wife. I mentioned to her that I really liked his “skull cap”, which had a cross embroidered on the back of it. While I was distracted my wife asked him where he bought it as she wanted to get me one for Christmas. He explained that he had the cap for quite some time and it had been with him for 5 tours of duty in the Mid-East. He then took it off got my attention and gave it to me. This was not just some run of the mill cap, it was something he held dear, as it served as a constant reminder of who his real protector was.
It’s no secret that our military sacrifice a lot to help preserve our freedom, sometimes with their lives. In the verse above Jesus points this out, but like most of his statements, it reaches even further. We don’t like to admit it but much of the time our love is conditional. It might not be a “conscious condition” but nevertheless, it is there.” If we love someone we want them to love us back. If we do something for someone, we expect something in return. We’re pre-programmed to think and feel, “what’s in it for me.
If we are to truly follow Jesus we have to think differently. We need to recondition ourselves, to lose ourselves. If we were to die in service of another we could not receive any reciprocation for that act. Jesus wants us to take that attitude into the world and demonstrate His love to others. To serve and sacrifice out of the love that Jesus demonstrated to us throughout his life.
I’ll treasure this cap and the meaning it had for my new friend Brian but also for the selfless gesture he made by giving it to a total stranger. For such a seemingly small act of kindness it’s a lesson for us all on a much grander scale.
1 John 4:11 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another