The value of a life is always measured by how much of it was given away.
I heard Andy Stanley speak these words at a leadership event I attended on Friday and it got my attention. As a writer, I am always looking for something that piques my curiosity or touches a nerve and this did it that day. The theme of the event was “Beyond You” and it featured speakers who spoke about living and leading in such a way that impacts and influences the lives of others.
When Mr. Stanley was speaking he was making the point that what we value at the end of life is generosity and selflessness. This reminded me of another statement on giving away our life. This one is found in the red letters in the book of John 15:13:
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Jesus, of course, showed us the ultimate example of laying down one’s life.
But if we think about it we can lay down our life for others in many ways.
The Message states it this way, This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.
Here are three that we can focus on: Time, Talents, Resources.
- Time: Time is a precious commodity. We are all bound by time and once time is gone, it is gone. I remember as a kid wishing for Friday, for summer break, for Christmas. Now I wish that it would slow down! However, we can choose how to use our time. When we try to use our time to impact the lives of others that can often mean laying down our lives for them. When we give of our time, we are putting someone else’s needs in front of our own. We may have sacrificed something we wanted to do in order to help someone else. At the end of the day, the time I spent doing for others is always more satisfying than the time I spend doing for myself.
- Talents: You are a gifted individual. Did you know that? Is it a foreign concept to you? I know it is because you were created by God in his image. He created you to fulfill a purpose that only you can do. He gave you spiritual gifts, but also just talents and abilities. These things can be used to help people in need and to lay down your life for them. I am good at carpentry, attention to detail, teaching and encouragement. I am not good at plumbing, roomfuls of screaming 1st graders, being tactful, and keeping my desk cleaned off. That’s just the way God made me. So I look for opportunities to build things, teach people, and encourage others (in a direct sort of way.) I stay away from leaky faucets and 1st graders. In the same way, you are gifted in some things and not so much in others. Find what you are good at. It will probably be something you enjoy doing, and will really enjoy doing when you are using that talent to help someone else.
- Resources: You are richly blessed. Seriously. Put down your wallet that isn’t necessarily what I mean. You are blessed with resources that you can give to others. It may be financial. God may have given you way more money than you need. To you, your checkbook is something that you can use to share with others in need. All of us can and should give a tithe to our church to help further the Kingdom through the work the church does in our community. But if you find yourself financially challenged, perhaps you can give other resources. Maybe a friend or a family needs help watching the kids. Maybe their lawn mower quit working and they could use yours. Maybe they need an ear to hear a problem or a spot on your prayer list. It may be lending your voice to the choir, your truck for a move, or your support at a doctor’s visit. Just like with talents, what you have to give varies by who you are. And just like talents, you will enjoy the giving way more than the receiving.
Remember, when we give ourselves away, the effects last long beyond our lives. What we do today will affect our friends, family, spouses, kids, grand-kids and more. We who follow Christ should follow his example and give away that which was given to us.
I think you will find that the more you give away, the more you will get in return.