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What Does It Mean To Lay Down Your Life for Your Brother? 1 John 3:16-18

June 16th, 2013 · 3 Comments · Bible, Christ, Christianity, Death, Jesus, Life, New Testament, Religion

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – 1 John 3:16-18

When we hear Jesus laid down his life for us, usually the first thing that comes to mind is his crucifixion. Jesus died for us on the cross…that is what laying down his life looks like. I think John is letting us in on a little more to the story than just the crucifixion. Notice what he says next, “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

John tells us that, like Jesus, we ought to lay down our lives for others. No surprise there, but notice the example he gives of what this looks like. He doesn’t tell of a Christian dying for another Christian. John’s illustration of how to lay down your life for others is to help someone in need. The truth of the matter is, few of us will ever die for another person, while all of us have the opportunity to put others first on a daily basis.

That brings us back to Jesus. When did Jesus lay down his life? It started well before the cross. It started when he invited a tax collector to follow him, even though he knew people wouldn’t like it. It started when he got an adulterous woman out of being stoned, even though he knew it would cost him. It started when he raised Lazarus from the dead and the plots to kill him started to swirl. It started back when he told them he would tear down the temple and raise it up again in three days but they didn’t understand him and were angry with him for saying such things.

The point is, Jesus laid down his life all along the way. The ultimate demonstration was in the cross but the reality is, it started way before that. The cross was the natural progression of a life that was already given up for others. So when we are called to lay down our lives for others, don’t get all focused on dying for someone else and never put this into practice for lack of opportunity. Realize that laying down yourself for others is about how you value people and how you see yourself.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Jerry Starling

    I believe it was in Jim Woodroof’s book Four Realities that I first came across this concept – and it has impacted my understanding of “Kingdom Living” ever since!

    Thank you for bringing this to the table in this forum! Following Jesus is much more than physically being crucified for your faith. It is the servant attitude that led Jesus to Calvary.

  • Beverly Stromberg

    I am 82. My sister is 85. My sister has, scitafrenia. I do not know how to spell it. My husband is 84. I have the beginning of COPD. Yrs ago, I took a bad fall. They replaced my femur with titanium. Attached it to my hip. I had a reverse shoulder operation on right shoulder. They did a back operation. I have had other operations, etc. I am very stiff. I use a can and a walker, Use back braces. My sister, is a Christian and a heavy smoker. My husband has had several operations, etc. We live in a small house.. My sister is now a WARD OF THE SYSTE. She has 3 children . 2 boys, one girl. The youngest boy, in his fifties, is on drugs. They do not visit their Mother. I do not know why. My sister keeps asking to come to live with me. I have taken several people, family, including my sister, to live in my house. I am concerned about the Bible verse, “Lay down your life for your brother”.

    • Virginia Cantone

      Beverly,

      You are clearly a good Christian to even be concerned about the situation at hand.

      God would want you to take care of yourself first. If there is anything you can do to help your sister, WITHOUT IT BEING TOO MUCH FOR YOU TO HANDLE, then, he would want you to do that-BUT NOTHING MORE.

      Beverly, sometimes the best way to help someone is to get out of their way of helping themselves.

      If someone is always being helped then they don’t learn how to help themselves and avoid the same mistakes.

      It’s okay to let people get to the bottom of the barrel,so to speak. Sometimes that’s what makes them change their ways. Plus, that’s when people tend to get on their knees and pray to God for help.

      I hope this helps you.
      Take care of yourself and your immediate family.

      Love,
      Virginia from Brooklyn NY USA

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