This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? —1 John 3:16-17
The beautiful IDS Building towers over the skyline of Minneapolis. Its fifty-seven stories of blue-black glass make an impressive sight. One day, a depressed executive opened the doors of his fifteenth-story office, walked out on the ledge, and threatened to leap to his death. A Christian friend, who happened to be present, pleaded with the man not to take his own life.
Teetering on the edge, the executive said, ‘If you really mean it—will you come over and take my hand?’ The Christian man, realizing his friend could drag both of them over the edge—hesitated. When the businessman saw the hesitation, he said, ‘You’re just like the rest. You talk, but you don’t really care.’ Then he turned and leaped to his death.”—adapted from Heart for the Harvest by Lowell Lundstrom
What Jesus did for us was more than talk. It was more than showing us how to live as God wants us to. He really cared! He cared so much for us that he “laid down his life for us.” Finding us in a hopeless state of despair and spiritual death, Jesus reached out his hand and drew us back to safety. “This is how we know what love is.” Jesus now asks us to be willing to do for others as he did for us. “We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers,” says John. That’s a mighty big challenge! Does this mean we have to die to prove our love for others? No, although some of us may be called to die to show our love for Jesus.
John is talking here about being willing, for Jesus’ sake, to do whatever is necessary to meet the needs of those around us, even to the point of death. He is challenging us to really care! When we’re that willing and that ready to care, we will truly reflect the love of Christ.
Caring that goes beyond talk, to reaching out a hand, is risky business. We risk being pulled off the “comfort ledge” of our lives into something that may be costly. It may cost us time. It may cost us energy. It may require giving up some of our treasured freedom. It may also cost us money or material goods.
Our willingness to part with something we value for Jesus’ sake and to give it to people who are in need is a sign that the love of God is in us. This is how love shows itself. The evidence is on display in whatever we do. We live in a very hurting world. It’s a world full of opportunities to care, and in our caring, we have all kinds of opportunities to showcase Jesus’ love to the people around us. Is there a showcase of God’s love in your neighborhood?
Prayer Starters for 1 John 3:16-17
• Praise Jesus for the love that caused him to lay down his life for you.
Thank him for doing that.
• Confess any failing you may have had in reaching out a loving hand
to another person.
• Ask God to help you see the needs of people around you and to give
you a heart willing to pay the cost of reaching out.
–Adapted from Be Jesus in Your Neighborhood (Developing a Prayer, Care, Share Lifestyle in 30 Days) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Praise God for his holiness and righteousness. Thank him for promising to work all things together for good. Confess any coldness of heart. Commit yourself to becoming more and more conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). Ask God to renew your love for him as it was when you first believed.
Ask God to lay on your heart those for whom he desires you to pray. Request the Holy Spirit to show you how to pray for each person.
“Productive prayer requires earnestness, not eloquence.” —Anonymous
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend
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