Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Jesus said starting in John 15:9 that he wanted our love for others to look like the love he had for us. What did that love look like?
In our culture love often takes on a meaning that looks nothing like what the Bible says love is. From the worlds perspective loving yourself more is the way of self-help. By “loving yourself” the worlds meaning is an inward focus, looking out for oneself, doing whatever is best for them, and placing their self-worth in how great they feel about themselves.
The world sees love as having feelings or tied to an emotion. Love is not about what you feel, but an action. Love cannot be about feelings as we live in a fallen world that is flawed and our emotions, or feelings are not always loving towards someone.
If you don’t believe this, place yourself in a scenario where a serial killer murders one of your family members. What kind of emotion or feelings do you have then? I will bet you don’t feel much love for that person at all. In fact, it’s likely you feel hatred and anger, which are feelings we might expect one to have given the situation.
Yet, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). God’s Son was murdered and yet He felt only love for us as Jesus took on the sins of the world. God did this for the sinner which is you, me and that serial killer. Paul says in Romans 5:7 that you and I would be willing to lay down our lives for someone we thought was good. But what about someone like a murderer that we think is not so good.
In my line of work as a law enforcement professional, we would all lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters taking a bullet for them. There is honor in that, and no one would question it as even the verse John 15:13 says that there is no greater love than for one to lay down their life for a friend. But that verse is asking us to look at something more loving than just what we think is good. Would we have laid down our lives for that serial killer to save his eternal soul if we knew he would choose to put his faith in Jesus. In fact, we would much rather be there in the death chamber watching him injected with poison as his life is ended.
For you and me the serial killer gets no love, and we will expect that the justice system will punish that person to the full extent of the law. Yet, God says that if that serial killer repents of their sins and puts their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins, they will be saved. There are no conditions or asterisk by that killer’s name because they committed a heinous act. There is certainly not one by your name either, exempting you because you see yourself as a good person. The Bible says there is no one that is good. Our definition of love has conditions. God’s love had no condition for sending his Son. He did it knowing full well that some will not except His gift of salvation, and it would cost Him everything. Of course, not excepting his gift comes with eternal punishment, but God did not have to send His Son to die for our sins. He did it out of love.
We honor the fallen on Memorial Day and we have memorials throughout this country to honor law enforcement for those who have sacrificed their own lives. The Apostle Paul says it is a rarity that someone might lay down their life for a just or righteous person as that is a tremendously loving and worthy act of honor. But again, what about the serial killer?
Biblical love is a decision, not a feeling or emotion. It is based on compassion that is done out of sacrifice for the well-being of another. God says that if you want to know what love looks like, then look to the cross and then look at who Jesus died for. If you continue to read past Romans 5:7 into the next verses, you will see that the answer is that the proof and demonstration of true love is seen in who Christ died for.