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Friday, August 30, 2013

The Practical Effects of Ultimate Commitment

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
(John 15:13 NIV).

This is the highest kind of love, a self-giving love for others above one’s own self-interest. Jesus demonstrated it to an ultimate degree at Calvary, and we should get ready to follow in his steps. (Through the Year with Jimmy Carter, page 243).

Self-preservation is a strong drive in most all of us until the very end when suffering lethal affliction or unbearable pain we prefer death. But up until that point most of us are fighters for the continuance of our lives. Thus we come to John 15:13; in view of our commitment and drive for self-preservation, it shows special if not rare love when we are willing to give up our lives for our friends. The archetypal visual epitomizing this is the mother cradling her child against impending threats—“Kill me” the visual says, “just let my child live on.”

Thus we see that for ultimate commitment a greater love is essential. Intellectual and legal commitment are simply not enough, there must be the total commitment that comes with emotional and spiritual commitment—a commitment so ingrained that it reacts reflexively for the welfare of others in all matters great and small. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35 NIV). That is, the peculiar nature of love manifests itself in multiple practical effects this side of the final act of literally dying for another. These practical effects can span a wide spectrum from heart-felt sympathy to civil respect to tough love. All such manifestations encompass the paradox that the greatest self-love in factual truth must evidence unqualified love for others. This paradox lies at the core of Christian grace and is made evident in good works deriving from carefully cultivated instincts and the empowering support of the Godhead.

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