7 Everyday Ways to Lay Your Life Down for A Friend

Written By: Rev. Derek Robinette

Jesus likes to mix things up. He is like a church league, slow pitch softball pitcher and a major league closer all at the same time.

In John 15, Jesus give his final instructions to his disciples and the first one is a floater that Peter got really excited about knocking out the park. “Love one another.” Great. I can handle that. 

Then Jesus changes his stance in the next sentence and he was bringing the heat. “Greater love has no one than this than to lay his life down for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:13-14).  Did you see that fast ball fly past you?

One could argue, “of course Jesus is going to say this because he is hours away from laying down his life on the cross.”  But I think this was a serious challenge to the eleven (Judas had unfriended Jesus at this point).

More than likely you aren’t going to be asked to step in front of a TARC bus for a friend, but there are every day ways you can lay your life down for your friends:

Be Vulnerable

In the era of texting and Face-booking, we have lost the ability to truly connect with one another. It is nearly impossible to be vulnerable through social media or texting and, no, emojis don’t count! Letting people in creates connection and bonds that are not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” This strand is not easily broken because it is wound tight. Those three strands are intimately connected to one another.  That doesn’t happen over Instagram or Snapchat. It happens through face to face interaction.

Set Good Boundaries

To lay your life down you must have something to give. This passage is asking you to give your best to help those around you. In order to do this, you must know what is appropriate in each relationship. Answering your phone the fifteenth time someone calls you in one day is not laying your life down. It is enabling them to be annoying.  Trust me, they have called someone else instead of leaving you a voicemail.

Even Jesus set boundaries as the crowds pressed. He had the disciples prepare him an escape boat because he couldn’t handle any more text message asking for a quick healing. At times, neither can you and that is perfectly ok.

Sacrifice the Small Stuff

Because it is the big stuff! Small sacrifices for the greater good of your neighbor is what it means to lay your life down. Giving of your time, expertise, talents or money is a practical way to make a difference. When it comes to time, being present is the biggest gift we can give. Have you ever been around someone who left you feeling energized and was genuinely interested in what was happening in your life? Be that person. Have you ever been around someone who was on their phone the entire time, didn’t introduce you when others walked up and never asked about your life? Don’t be “that guy.”

Realize It’s Probably Not You

Fights happen in friendships because we don’t give one another the benefit of the doubt. Your friend walks by and doesn’t say “hi” or make a big deal that they haven’t seen you in twenty-four hours. For some reason we are hurt and wonder what we must have done to offend them. The truth is that 99% of the time, people are not thinking about us and their reaction or lack there of has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the mountain they are facing at home, work, or the neighborhood association (just got personal). Loving your neighbor can sometimes mean just cutting them some slack.

Be Willing to Sacrifice the Friendship

Lay your friendship down for your friends. Have you ever had a conversation that if it goes bad it might end the friendship? If I haven’t, I must ask myself if I’m really being a friend. If I see someone close to me practicing behaviors that will lead to a path of destruction and I do or say nothing, I am not that person’s friend. I am definitely not a Christian friend.

A common excuse given is “I don’t have the relationship to have this conversation”.  On the other side of the drunk driving accident, addiction, or moral failure, it is not ok for us to say, “Well I saw it coming, but I just didn’t feel comfortable having that conversation.”  Having “that conversation” is precisely what Jesus is talking about in John 15.

Inspire Greatness in Your Friends

As Christians we are called to dream redemptive dreams. The prophet Joel from the Old Testament was a man who dreamed dreams and saw visions. Do you see the possibilities in your friend’s lives and push them towards those? One of the ways we can do this is to take the best of our lives and share it with others.

A friend of mine named Debra, does this through her physical fitness. She lost over 100 pounds and she just can’t stop sharing how she did it with others. Her story effects other stories. 

Share What’s Most Important

If you are a Christian, I hope the greatest thing that has ever happened in your life is having a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, I hope you are a part of a vibrant church that encourages you to grow in your walk with Christ and supports you along the way.

“I just don’t have the relationship to share with my friend about the most important thing and the best group of people that help me grow.” I’ll admit that I have a passion for faith sharing, but I don’t understand how something so life-changing can go for years undiscussed with people I call “friends.” 

Jesus threw us a fastball when he challenged us to be Christian friends. Laying our lives down is a pathway to true friendship. So as you lay your life down for others, may  you see that you receive back a hundred times more.