One of the ways to determine the sincerity of a person is to ask this question: What are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your goal? This could apply many areas in a person’s life. This could be applied to a sport in which a person participates: What is the athlete willing to sacrifice in order to help the team win the game, win the tournament, and the state championship? Think about this principle of sacrifice in a military setting: What is the soldier willing to sacrifice in order to accomplish the mission upon which he or she was sent? As we all know, a soldier is willing to give his or her life to accomplish the mission! This idea of sacrifice can be applied to helping the church accomplish the mission that Jesus gave us: What is a Christian willing to sacrifice in order to bring glory to God and advance the kingdom of Christ by living and proclaiming the Gospel and the rest of God’s Word? Sacrifice also applies to friendships! One of the concepts I addressed in my last post was that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” So here are my questions: What are your friends willing to sacrifice in order to build a godly friendship with you? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to build a godly relationship with your friends?
How Far Will Your Friends Go?
Think about the life of Christ for a moment and what He did to demonstrate His love for His friends. He is the perfect example of sacrifice in order to bring glory to God the Father (to give the right opinion of God the Father). John 3:16 captures the ultimate act of sacrifice: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God the Father was willing to sacrifice His only begotten Son to pay the penalty for our sin. You can’t get any farther down the road of sacrifice than that gift. Jesus would later make the statement in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” When Jesus talked about laying down your life for your friends, He wasn’t just presenting a good idea. You need to remember the context of this statement. Jesus was about to be betrayed by Judas and ALL the other disciples would forsake him and flee; He was about to be physically abused during the trial and then crucified on the cross! And in this context, Paul wrote these incredible words in 2 Corinthians 5:21, He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. So think about these questions as you evaluate your friends and your friendship to others:
- Who are you willing to die for?
- Who do you know that would be willing to die for you?
If You Won’t Make Small Sacrifices…
There is a lesson to be learned from the life of Christ. He had been showing love to these disciples whom He called “My friends” for the past three years. He fed them, taught them, performed miracles that demonstrated His deity, modeling what it means to please God in what you do, and gave them a perfect example of what a “Real Friend” looks like! Then in John 13, Jesus washed the feet of those who were about to deny Him and run away from His at a time they should have been the most loyal. Obviously, His statement in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” came after He has already washed their dirty feet. Here’s the lesson: You’ll probably never lay down your life for someone if you’re not willing to wash their dirty feet! A real friend sacrifices for those he/she loves. But it’s not just any sacrifice (those would include time, food, clothing, financial help, etc.), this is the ultimate sacrifice: Your LIFE! Just as Jesus was willing to sacrifice His life, a real friend will be willing to DIE for his friends!
Where Do You Stand Today?
Now it’s time for the big test: Who is willing to die for you? In other words, what kind of friends do you have? You also need to ask: Who are you willing to die for? In other words, what kind of friend are you? We all ought to be willing to die for each other because of God’s love for us and our love for one another. We need to focus on and put into practice the words of the Beloved Apostle, John: We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). All of us should thank for Lord for progressive sanctification (growing and changing to think and act more like Jesus Christ). We can grow in this area of being willing to sacrifice our life for our friends! Jesus did it for His friends, we can do it for our friends!
Next Time: a Real Friend doesn’t just talk about God, a Real Friend is obedient to God.