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Dying Daily for Love’s Sake
By Sandra Fischer

Poets, philosophers, saints and greeting card writers have all given us their definitions of love, but all their words and considerations pale before the one given us by the Author of love Himself: "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." (I John 3:16 NIV)

At first glance it appears that only by the physical act of dying can we show what real love is. And it’s true that many have followed in Christ’s footsteps by giving their mortal bodies on behalf of others. Throughout history many Christians have died for their faith or to save others from death. One of the most poignant examples in recent times was the heroic sacrifice of those on Flight 93 on September 11, 2001. A few courageous men stormed the cockpit to prevent the terrorists from using that plane as a "missile" to destroy yet another planned target. By so doing, these men gave their lives and the lives of those on board to spare countless others.

Lisa Beamer’s husband, Todd, was one of those heroic men. She was interviewed many times regarding her husband’s selfless act. She was asked if he had ever shown by his life to be that kind of hero or if he had performed any similar acts of heroism before this ultimate one in which he gave his life.

Lisa described her husband as an ordinary man who loved God, his family and friends. She said that everything he did before 9/11 was preparing him for that day. He hadn’t suddenly decided he would become a hero; he had been developing the character of a hero all along by making small, simple everyday sacrifices for the benefit of others. While the act of 9/ll catapulted him into making the ultimate sacrifice, he was already a hero by the way he lived his daily life.

Few of us will be called to die as Todd Beamer did, but we are called to lay down our lives each day by dying to our own selfish desires in "little sacrifices" to illustrate the principle of love shown by our Lord. What we may consider to be small considerations are really revelations of our hearts. We can find them given in the scriptures. And we can see them expressed daily in infinitesimal ways, such as:

Forgiving someone who has slighted you in word or deed. ("Forgiving one another as Christ forgave you" – Colossians 3:13 NIV)

Listening to someone and sincerely trying to understand. ("A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart" – Proverbs 18:2 NIV)

Letting someone in line ahead of you when it’s really your turn. ("Honor one another above yourselves" – Romans 12:10b NIV)

Smiling at the fast food server and thanking her, even when she’s not so fast. ("Be kind and compassionate to one another" – Ephesians 4:32 NIV)

Minding what you say rather than saying what’s on your mind. ("...and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" – 2 Corinthians 10:5b NIV)

Not insisting on your way as the only way. ("Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought" – Romans 12:3b NIV)

Showing mercy and leaving justice to God. ("Do not take revenge … leave room for God’s wrath" – Romans 12:19a NIV)

Saying "thank you" and "I love you" as often as possible. ("In everything give thanks…" – 2 Thessalonians 5:18a and "love one another for love is from God…" I John 4:7b NIV)

Saying "I’m sorry" whenever necessary. ("Clothe yourself with humility toward one another…" I Peter 3:5b NIV)

These examples of everyday gestures represent the giving of ourselves in a myriad of ways. In them we are dying daily for love’s sake. Jesus said that there is no greater love than laying down our lives for our friends, not necessarily all at once, but by each day choosing to surrender in obedience to His commands and His example.

Every day we have the opportunity to show kindness instead of criticism, mercy instead of judgment, grace instead of condemnation, and forbearance instead of intolerance. The Lord did such small acts every day on His way to the cross. If we are to truly follow Him as He has called us to do, we can do no less. He told us how to love, He showed us how to love, and each word, each deed was with our benefit in mind, not His. Let us shed our love abroad to others in the same way every day.

Sandra Fischer taught high school English in Indiana before owning a bookstore for several years. Most of her writing is devoted to stories from her experiences growing up in the Midwest. She has been published in Guideposts and several trade journals. Having retired in 2001, Sandra lives in South Carolina with her husband, Craig, where she continues to write. You can contact Sandra via the Letters page of this magazine.
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