This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
– John 15:12-13
At a recent wedding I performed, John 15:9-12 served as one of the Scripture readings. The key thought here relates to Jesus’ teaching, “Love one another as I have loved you.” In the next verse, Jesus says: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This word for lay down one’s life points to Jesus’ sacrificial love as shown on the cross. When the time comes for Jesus to show the full extent of his love, he doesn’t expound some theory. Instead, he follows the storyteller’s creed of “Show, Don’t Tell.” Jesus shows his love through his deeds.
I then asked the couple, “How will you lay down your lives for one another?” I observed that it is highly unlikely that the husband would ever have to dive in front of a speeding car to save his wife’s life. Or that the wife would ever be given the opportunity to take a bullet for her husband.
So how might a husband and wife lay down their lives for one another? In a thousand and one daily ways: cooking for each other; taking out the trash; making the bed; putting the lid down; emptying the dishwasher; folding the laundry; flushing; going to work and earning a living; giving each other goodbye kisses and welcome home kisses; asking “How was you day?” and then listening; changing the oil in the car; changing diapers; saying “thank you”; doing the taxes; remembering anniversaries; making chicken soup when the other is sick; giving flowers and backrubs; remembering birthdays; putting each other’s needs first; watching each other’s preferred movie genre; offering helpful advice; NOT offering helpful advice; praying for one another; honoring each other in front of friends; expressing gratitude; showing respect when annoyed; avoiding passive aggression; and practicing forgiveness.
Every day, couples (as well as family members and friends) have countless tiny opportunities to lay down their lives for one another. We hear a lot these days about micro-aggressions; I’d like to call these gestures above micro-expressions of love. And over a lifetime, these micro-expressions add up to a body of work that communicates, “I really do love you and I really do lay down my life for you.” Because No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.