My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
This week’s devotional is from Sam Ward, Director of Ministry (The Message Trust).
I have ‘giving’ issues. As a child my parents would send me off to birthday parties with, what I considered to be, less than satisfactory gifts. For a while I’d lose myself in the party. I’d apply myself fully during the games and set about the dance off in my gangly off beat style. I’d test the strength of the paper plates as I carried away a mountain of food from the buffet table, sampling rare foods like party rings and sausages on sticks. All the while I’d maintained a strong hope of a party bag departure queue and the sugar filled walk home. I dreaded the summons to gather around the birthday boy as he opened his gifts. Where could I hide? Usually I’d locate myself in the gap between two sofas that was slightly too small. It was as if the paper would be torn off with excitement and the presents received with gratitude until the very moment they would reach my gift. Time would slow down and heart rate would increase. My gift was the thin, small gift that aroused zero intrigue and looked hardly worth opening. I knew that below the left-over Christmas gift wrapping would be a re-gifted colouring book and a three-colour pen set or an Enid Blyton paperback. Oh, the shame as an enquiry is made as to who brought this gift. The gift would be quickly dispatched of, almost flung, as the urgency to return to the presents that evoked the ‘woo’ and ‘wow’ sounds intensified.
The best gifts are always costly but they don’t have to be expensive. The greatest givers are those who intimately know the receiver. They head to the shops with a purse full of love and understanding that overflows in thoughtfulness and creativity. Their search for bespoke perfection takes them well beyond the seasonal gift section and past the price tags labelled duty. The greatest givers are those who generously spend themselves. They are not bound by commercial expectation.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
There is no greater giver than the one who lays down their life. There is not greater friend than the one who gives of themselves. They don’t give from excess, there is no left overs of self that can be parcelled off without cost. Giving of ourselves is sacrificial. It comes at a great price and is only made possible by a deep love for those we intend to give to. Love wraps the giver into the gift.
There is no greater giver than Christ and no great love than his life lay down. Lent is the season we ready ourselves to receive the gift of his life. We prepare our hearts for the fullness of his love that is given as his life is taken at the cross. There is no greater gift than God given life. No greater cost than that which the love of God displayed in the crucifixion.
Have you received his life? Do you know of his love? Do you live in the fullness of life? Do you carry, in your heart, the gift of love that he gave you?
The gift of Christ is the gift that keeps giving. Not only does his life continues to give us life but his gift of love, by its very nature, make us loving givers.
The sacrificial love of Christ works in us and transforms us into his likeness. His sacrificial love in us draws, calls us and compels us to lay down our lives. Those who have received the greatest love are those who will make the greatest sacrifices. They are those who recognise the life they lay down was a gift they received from the most loving of friends.
Lord I thank you for what you have given me. Thank you for laying down your life for me. Lord I pray that you would develop in me a giving heart that glorifies you – a cheerful heart that desires to give back to you a small measure of the over-abundance that you have given to me. Amen.
Gift a box of chocolates to your local fire, police or ambulance station and thank them for their public service
Give the gift of time to a friend or family member.
Be present, have a conversation without being distracted by your phone or anything else.
Maybe you could think about following a sacrificial calling and joining an Eden team?
Find out more at joineden.org
Could you give financially to the work of The Message? Find out more at message.org.uk/donate