Sacrifice – a sacred act, an offering at great cost to the giver; giving up something of value to benefit another.
Jesus told His disciples: “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
Sometimes “laying down your life” is the ultimate sacrifice. We honor such acts on Memorial Day. For too many this weekend, this is a time of grief and sadness. For all of us, this is time of gratitude and appreciation.
Sometimes “laying down your life” doesn’t mean dying; it means living. Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” in November of 1861. In her original version, the third verse has a line that reads: “As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free.” During World War II, Fred Waring changed the line to “let us live to make men free.”
I believe we are called to lay down our lives every day. There is a solemn dignity in watching someone live for something other than self-satisfaction and personal gain. There is joy in seeing people put others before themselves. There is inspiration in knowing that humility is a virtue to be exalted.
The writer of Hebrews urged us: “With Jesus’ help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God by proclaiming the glory of His name. Don’t forget to do good and to share with others in need, for such sacrifices are very pleasing to God” (13:15,16). Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave Himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like a sweet perfume to Him” (5:2).
Lord, may we please You with the fragrance of our living sacrifice!