Leading By Example

We should rejoice when making sacrifices to help others, just as Jesus did when he paid for our sins

In a world filled with hobbies, distractions, and personal interests, we do not always think about the needs or well being of others first, as we often consider how to better our lives, or find entertainment, before we think about making personal sacrifices in order to help others–Jesus told us to love others like he loved us, which involves making sacrifices for one another with joy, just like he felt joy when he paid for our sins

What Would Inspire Jesus To Selflessly Lay His Life Down For Us

Okay, we all know John 3:16, which says God sent his son because he loved us, but have you ever wondered how Jesus felt about such a painful act of service or how his attitude relates to our daily lives?

The answer is simple, he joyfully looked upon the reward his sacrifice would accomplish instead of focusing on the price to get it–an attitude we should also adopt when given the opportunity to serve and/or love others

John 3:16
For 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

Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

That is an amazing example of Jesus’ attitude in regard to service, as he not only obeyed, but he did so “for the joy set before him”

Isn’t that awesome?

Jesus was filled with joy as he knew his sacrifice would pay for the sins of mankind, allow us to be drawn closer to God by receiving the influence of his spirit on our hearts, give us the ability to enter heaven, as well as overcome all sin and death in the process–not exactly a small accomplishment!

On top of this, it is interesting how God loved Jesus due to his willing, joyful obedience over completing this task, as the amount of sacrifice was not insignificant, both as a man, and as a heavenly authority

John 10:17-18
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father

It is important to note how Jesus says he lays down his life, but will take it up again, just as he told us we will lose our lives, but truly gain them, when we stop caring more about our comfort, personal gain, etc…, and seek after God’s kingdom

Matthew 16:24-26
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Regardless of outward appearances, how we spend our time, energy, and money says more about our priorities in life than anything else

If we are not living in a manner that shows we value following after Jesus’ loving, selfless, obedient example more than anything, we are not living according to the gospel Jesus taught, and we are not reflecting the heart of the one who ransomed us from death

Following The Example Of The One Who Loved Us First–Love Itself

Since we understand how joyful Jesus was when he paid for our sins, when we are out spreading the gospel, and seeking to live as those who are receiving the influence of God on our hearts, we must apply our understanding of God’s character to every aspect of our lives, as the Bible says God is love itself–this loving character was the motivation that inspired Jesus to sacrifice himself for us, and should be our motivation to serve others as well

1 John 4:7-8
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love

(Remember, it was God’s steadfast, everlasting love that inspired Jesus to selflessly redeem us, it was not because he read a book or heard a message from a guest speaker that pumped him up for a few days then faded away)

1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us

1 John 4:10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins

John 13:34
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another

(Notice Jesus said we “*must* love one another”, this is not an optional command!)

Now, understanding how much Jesus sacrificed, out of love, in order to pay for our salvation, and his subsequent command to love others as he loved us, this puts our lives into perspective doesn’t it

I mean think about it, when was the last time we sacrificed a piece of our own happiness, or comfort, for the sake of helping someone else or spreading the true message of the gospel, ie: love

The truth is, most of the time we are so wrapped up in our hobbies, social engagements, careers, etc…, that we hardly think about the welfare of others

Yes, painful, I know

When we consider how God loved us even when we were dead in sin, undeserving of forgiveness, and in dire need of redemption, is YouTube, Facebook, TV, video games, money, and all the other things we chase in the world, more important than sharing God’s love with those who need it as badly as we do?

How much gratitude does it show when we do nothing to share this amazing gift with others, and what does it say about our spiritual maturity, and relationship with God, if we do not love others enough to make personal sacrifices in order to share his love with the world, let alone not express the same joy Jesus did when he shared God’s love with us through such a tremendous sacrifice

Ephesians 2:1-5
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions

To be clear, I am not telling everyone to sell their possessions, give everything to the poor, and be a missionary in Africa, I am talking about making sincere, joyful changes in our lives that show we care more about bringing others to the kingdom than chasing after the world, which could mean volunteering to feed the poor, donating amounts of money that require personal sacrifice in our daily lives, making every effort to love our brothers and sisters by sharing with those in need, etc…

These are not “sell everything and move to Africa” activities, these are things everyone can do, regardless of how much money they make or how much free time they have after work/school

Even something as simple as inviting a needy family over for dinner or making an effort to give away unused clothes from our closets can make an impact we cannot even imagine, both on a physical, and emotional level

Whatever you do, try to make it personally impacting on the people you are helping for the sake of glorifying God, as just handing someone clothes or food does not help them grow closer to God as much as taking the time to become friends, and develop a personal connection–this is such an important part of witnessing, and loving one another as a church body

What Happens When We Are Reverently, And Gratefully Living As Examples Of God’s Love

When compared to the way the Holy Spirit moved in the days of the early church, it is staggering to see how ineffective many churches are in changing their surroundings today

I do not mean this in a judgmental way, but look at these examples that show how God moved in power when people lived as one body, hungry for God, freely giving to one another, not living as a bunch of individuals who just happen to come to the same building once a week

Acts 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved

Acts 4:32-35
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need

Can you imagine this in today’s church, people selling their homes so Christians in need could be taken care of?

Yikes, I have yet to see a church that even had a handful of members who lived like that, let alone a church body

Is it any wonder the power of God is not as strong today as it was in those churches–our lifestyles are completely contradictory to theirs

It is sad that many churches, and individual Christians, are not enjoying the full blessings of a relationship with God for the simple reason that we are not pursuing God in a manner that shows we value him above all else–we are living the words behind Christianity, but not expressing our faith through actions or loving truth

1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth

Galatians 5:6
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love

It is life changing when we truly learn to love others, as God’s presence is so strong in the lives of those who love, as Christianity is not about going to church once a week or memorizing Bible verses, it is about multiplying the gift we have received by sharing it with others

Matthew 13:23
But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown

The Only Thing Stopping Us From Sharing God’s Love Is Our Choice To Chase The World Instead

When spreading the gospel, and interacting with other Christians, we should take the same attitude as Jesus, who scorned the shame of the cross, stepping down from his throne to express God’s love for us, because of the joy set before him–we should have the same joy over the fact that loving others honors God, and makes God’s love complete among us

1 John 4:10-12
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us

Instead of feeling like doing things to love others are chores, we should look with joy at all the sacrifices we make in order to bring others to the kingdom, and to share God’s love with others, making it complete by accurately reflecting it in our daily lives

Hebrews 6:10
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them

1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart

Think about that the next time you raise your hands in worship, saying how much you love God, but do nothing to love others–oops!

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