There's No Greater Love than This...
In John 15:13, Jesus states, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” In other words, the greatest love is the love that gives the most. The more you’re willing to give for somebody, the more you love them. Loving involves giving—even giving your own life, Jesus says.
Think about the way a mother gives her life, in a sense, for her children. She may not physically die for them, but there’s still a sense in which she definitely gives her life for them.
I think of my wife, Becky, and all of the things she has given up and regularly gives up for our children. She’s given up having a career—at least for this season of her life. She’s also given up some aspects of her health since her three pregnancies have really taken a toll on her physically and brought on some physical ailments she didn’t used to have. And then, on a regular basis, Becky gives up her time, her attention, her energy, and hours of her sleep every night so that she can care for the three children God’s blessed us with.
Those children are a blessing, but Becky is certainly making a sacrifice. She’s laying down her life. And the reason she’s laying down her life is because she loves our kids.
Jesus says that as believers, we’re supposed to love one another in a similar way—even to the point that we’re willing to lay down our lives for each other. And in some ways, we should be laying down our lives for each other on a regular basis. We should be giving to one another—giving time, giving energy, giving help, giving encouragement, giving in whatever ways God provides opportunity for us to give. Giving to one another is part of truly loving one another.
And the motivation behind us giving ourselves in this way is that we care about one another’s welfare. That’s what biblical love is. It’s caring about the welfare of others.
In a sense, you could even say that when you love somebody in the biblical sense of that word, you’ve chosen to make your happiness dependent on their happiness. J. I. Packer brings this out in a brilliant way in his book Knowing God.
As Packer talks about the love God has for us, Packer observes that even though God’s ultimate purpose, according to the Bible, is his own glory, he has at the same time chosen to love human beings. And in choosing to love human beings, Packer says, God has “voluntarily bound up his own final happiness with theirs.”
Packer continues, “It is not for nothing that the Bible habitually speaks of God as the loving Father and Husband of his people. It follows from the very nature of these relationships that God’s happiness will not be complete till all his beloved ones are finally out of trouble….God was happy without humans before they were made; he would have continued happy had he simply destroyed them after they had sinned; but as it is he has set his love upon particular sinners, and this means that, by his own free voluntary choice, he will not [have] perfect and unmixed happiness again till he has brought every one of them to heaven. He has in effect resolved that henceforth for all eternity his happiness shall be conditional upon ours.”
Does that not blow your mind? For God to love us means that even though he was originally perfectly complete and satisfied in himself, he voluntarily made his happiness conditional upon ours. He allowed his own happiness to be bound up in ours.