Kenneth Sullivan

The apostle John states in 1 John 3:16  how we Christians acknowledge love by this: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us—that kind of love is sacrificial love. Since Jesus sacrificed His life for us, we ought to follow His example by laying down our lives for each other (New International Version). Sacrificial love does not mean standing before a bullet, risking our health, or neglecting our families for someone because we have to care for ourselves before we can care for others, and we have to care for our immediate family members (children, spouse, and parents) before we can care for others.  Instead, it means giving up some of our time for the care and support of others.

 We may not be willing to give up our free time for people because we want to have some time for ourselves.  For instance, we want to enjoy days off from our jobs to relax or do hobbies we enjoy. We may even have times when we plan to go out for pleasure, such as on a vacation, on a date, to a concert, to a party, or to watch a movie at a theater.  Essentially, we should postpone our free time to relax, enjoy hobbies, or go out for pleasure at a later time when we have seriously ill family members in desperate need of our care to tend to, for 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “Those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their household, have denied the faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers (New Living Translation).” We must also do the same for our friends if we are loyal to them, for Jesus says in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (New International Version).”

Naturally, we cannot take time off from our jobs to spend time with family or friends just for pleasure because it would be inexcusable to our employers. However, it would be nice if we could take time off from our jobs to go to a friend’s or a family member’s high school or college graduation for support, only if we receive consent from our employers. Hopefully, it is excusable to our employers if we take off from work to attend a funeral service in honor of our family members or when our relatives undergo serious surgery.

Reading about the church members in Acts 2:45 and 4:34-35, I learned that giving up material possessions to support our needy relatives and friends is another example of sacrificial love. In those scriptures, the church members who owed property sold land and houses so they could bring money to the apostles to give it to those in need.  Hence, the church had no needy members (New Living Translation).  In the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus told a rich man to do what the church members did in the book of Acts: to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor, but he was not willing to do so (Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21, and Luke 18:22). Like the rich man from the three gospels, we may not be willing to make the sacrifice for the needy by selling the possessions that are valuable to us, such as jewelry, computers, games, televisions, family heirlooms, cellphones, cars, clothes, shoes, furniture, or homes. Then again, what if we have enough to live on and notice another [relative or friend] in need, but we do not bother to help them?  How can God’s love be in us? (1 John 3:17, God’s Word Translation). Therefore, we must be willing to give up some of our plentiful possessions to help our needy people if we have God’s love and Jesus’ gospel in our hearts.  For example, if we have a large amount of food in our kitchen cabinets, we should give some to our relatives or friends when they lack food.  Similarly, if we have so many clothes, coats, jackets, or shoes in our closets, we should offer some to our people when they need these items and if they can fit them—Kenneth Sullivan. 

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