There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)
It is breathtaking in its power. It is marvelous in its mystery. God became flesh and lived among us…and delivered His innocent life to be crucified. This single act demonstrates a love far beyond comprehension.
It also illustrates the fact that love involves sacrifice. In my city of Boise, Idaho, it never ceases to amaze me how much people are willing to sacrifice for their beloved Boise State Broncos!
Sacrifice also shows up in more ordinary ways. Last week my wife was out of town for four days. I wanted to surprise her when she got home, so I went to Costco and bought two dozen red roses. Before I left the store, three women made comments to me. “Those are beautiful.” “That’s going to make someone happy.” “Are you in trouble?” (The third one was my favorite!) Now it really didn’t cost that much, but it says something about my willingness to sacrifice because I love my wife.
A few weeks ago I attended a prayer vigil along with perhaps 300 others at the Idaho State Capitol. It marked the second anniversary since Pastor Saeed Abedini was incarcerated in Iran because of his Christian faith. His family lives in Boise, and he and his wife Naghmeh have spoken at our church. Now when I think of sacrifice, I think of Saeed. He has been beaten, denied medical treatment, and threatened while in prison. But he has suffered and sacrificed because of his love for Jesus and for the people of Iran.
Over the past two years, I have reflected on something Saeed said while speaking from our pulpit. “I pray God will always keep me in the place where I know I am nothing.” Yet as I looked out over the crowd gathered to remember him, and considered that thousands of people were holding prayer vigils like that throughout the world, I realized that God exalts the humble, and that sacrifice demonstrates love like nothing else.
I would challenge us all to find one person for whom we can sacrifice today. Perhaps it is a kind word, a gift, or an act of kindness. It doesn’t have to cost us a ton, just enough to show we really care.
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