Sacrifice and Friendship

“I have called you friends …” (John 15:15).

We will never know the joy of self-sacrifice until we surrender every detail of our lives to our Father. Yet self-surrender is the most difficult thing for us to do. We make it conditional by saying, “I’ll surrender if …!” Or we approach it by saying, “I suppose I have to devote my life to God.” We will never find the joy of self-sacrifice in either of these ways. As soon as we do totally surrender, abandoning ourselves to Jesus, the Holy Spirit gives us a taste of His joy. The ultimate goal of this self-sacrifice is to lay down our lives for our Friend. John 15:13–14 says 13Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. When the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, our greatest desire is to lay down our lives for Jesus. But the thought that it is self-sacrifice never even crosses our minds, because sacrifice is the Holy Spirit’s ultimate expression of love.

Our Lord is our example of a life of self-sacrifice, and He perfectly exemplified Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do your will, O my God ….” He endured tremendous personal sacrifice with overflowing joy. I ask myself, “Have I ever yielded in absolute submission to Jesus Christ?” If He is not the One to whom I am looking daily for direction and guidance, then there is no benefit in any sacrifice. But when my sacrifice is made with my eyes focused on Him, slowly but surely His molding influence becomes evident in my life (see Hebrews 12:1–2). 1Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Beware of letting your natural desires hinder your walk in love before God. One of the cruelest ways to kill natural love is through the rejection that results from having built the love on natural desires. But the one true desire of a saint is the Lord Jesus. Therefore, love for God is not something sentimental or emotional, built on natural desires. For a saint to love as God loves is the most practical thing imaginable. “I have called you friends …” Our friendship with Jesus is based on the new life He created in us. This new life has no resemblance or attraction to our old life, only to the life of God. It is a life that is completely humble, pure, and devoted to God.

The same sacrifice and devotion found in our friendship with God should be a part of all of our relationships and our every day lives. Rarely is found in us, though, because we are not taught how. We must learn to make the translation. In other words, receive friendship from God and translate that same type of friendship into all of our relationships. It is one thing to receive, but quite another to give!

Kathleen Simmons