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Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

[John 15:13 NIV]

This Monday we honor Memorial Day. It is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering those who died while serving in the country's armed forces. It’s a time when we stop to truly honor and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who lost their lives in service to our country by fighting for and protecting the freedoms we cherish.

I debated what to write about this week as there are so many events weighing deep on our hearts today. The horrible mass shooting of innocent school children in Texas as well as the lingering violence and bloodshed being waged in the Ukraine. Why write about a secular holiday? But, the core of what we honor on Memorial Day is sacrifice.

In this light, we could say that Memorial Day is a religious holiday. We need only to look to Jesus’ words in John 15:13 to see that the ultimate expression of love is when one lays down their lives for others. Isn’t that what Jesus did? He displayed the greatest embodiment of sacrifice—being nailed to a cross so that we may be freed from the burden of our sins.

Don’t interpret Jesus’ words to say that we must actually die for others. We are to set an example—make a statement in a world full of people who simply desire to live only for themselves. We are to put away our desires and think of others. Isn’t that what sacrifice is all about? To give up something we cherish for the sake of a better cause. The common good. To give up something we yearn for the sake of others.

Memorial Day is a time to honor those in the military who lost their lives putting themselves in harm’s way. But it is also a time to remind us that we should live sacrificially. And when we do so, won’t this world be a better place?

Life’s biggest problems are born when old-fashioned selfishness and pride get in the way. I cannot vouch for its validity, but I read an article on the Internet that one of the impetuses for the 18-year-old to go on a shooting rampage was because he could not graduate high school with the rest of his class. He didn’t get want he wanted.

Our light really shines brighter and warmer, and we find fulfillment in life when we serve others, when we give up what we want for someone else. Live sacrificially. Isn’t that what we honor this weekend? Isn’t that what Christ did? Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.


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