Links Daily Devotional

Love Goes On

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, ESV)

Golf is an individual sport where the goal is to beat the golf course. Going out as a single offers quiet solitude, while a foursome adds the companionship of others. In a tournament we may not know the people we are paired with, or if we do, they may not be close friends. Sometimes this can create unwanted tension on the course.

I have experienced all of these scenarios many times over. I have played with good friends and respected peers who were delightful…and…I have also been confined to four or five hours with miserable playing partners, professionals and amateurs alike.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus said to his disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). On the heels of what might feel like an impossible commandment, Jesus went on to explain that this love is greatest when someone chooses to lay down his own life for the sake of his friends.

Now Jesus didn’t leave us to live out something he was unwilling to do himself. He called us friends (John 15:15) and gave the greatest love of all by going to the cross for you and me. It’s a love available to us on this side of heaven, but often our hearts feel his bold love is like a beautiful red apple dangling at the far end of a branch just out of reach.

Jesus’ words are stirring deeply in my heart today. Do I love as he loves? Sometimes. Who are the friends I would actually lay down my life for? The list is short. More importantly, is Jesus my friend and will I lay down my life for him? Yes, and doubt stirs.

The “love” Jesus describes in today’s passage is the Greek agape and means affection, good will, or brotherly love. Occurring 117 times in the scriptures, agape love seems to be important to God. The Greek word translated “to lay down” also means to set, to kneel down, to establish. Our “life” denotes our breath, soul, heart, and mind. And “friend,” is a companion, one we are actively fond of, a neighbor or associate.

On one side of the continuum, laying down our life literally means to die for our friends. As I ponder Jesus’ teaching, I wonder if laying down our lives also happens when we choose to do the small things every day that speak love and care to our friends.

Being this kind of friend begins from a posture of humility (bending our knee). In other words, we need to consciously choose to die to our own selfishness and self-interests. This doesn’t mean our longings, desires, or interests are not important; they are. However, I have experienced that when I choose to offer care and kindness to others without a hidden motive or agenda, my desire for connection and belonging is watered like a budding flower in a spring rain.

Offering care and kindness might look like:

– Providing childcare for a friend in crisis
– Snow-blowing your neighbors’ drive when you know they are out of town
– A spontaneous lunch date filled with laughter
– Picking up the phone instead of sending a text
– Listening well
– Speaking truth even when it hurts

So whether we are on the golf course with friends or foes, sitting at a business meeting, serving at church, or with family and friends, the ways in which we can lay down our lives and love one another are endless.

Tracy Hanson
February 12, 2015
Copyright 2015 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.