This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
I had been saved only a short time, and God was working hard at cleaning out my life. A minor traffic stop would reveal that I had a greater issue with the DMV from years past. After addressing with the judge what I thought must have been a misunderstanding, I was left without a driver’s license for a whole year. I still had responsibilities and wondered how I would survive that season. Surprisingly, some of my friends actually disappeared during that time and could not spare a moment to help me. One friend in particular had not spoken with me until that year approached its end, and he sent me a text message indicating that soon we would be able to fellowship again. That sent me the message that my friendship was valuable only when it was convenient and required no work.
Friendship is not something we have, it is something we do. It is an active relationship that we must pursue and nurture. Those who remain great friends for decades or even a lifetime do not happen upon that kind of relationship without effort. One must desire to remain connected, to make time and to give. The year that I spent cut off from my independence revealed to me which people were willing to sacrifice even just an hour or two to help me fulfill a need like buying groceries. That effort and time was truly minimal compared to what God tells us is required of a friend. If we are unable to part with a few hours or even a day for the sake of someone we claim to love, then we surely cannot walk in the great sacrificial love that friends should have for one another.
The command of Christ for his followers to love one another as He loved us alludes to his sacrifice on our behalf. He is telling us that our love in friendship should produce such dedication that we would be willing to give even our lives for our friends as He gave his for us. Consider that He made that sacrifice when we were still his enemies, and that should make us reevaluate how we love those we say are our friends. We should be willing to give whatever we have for those we love in friendship if the measure of love is the sacrifice of one’s own life. Father, give us the love for our friends that we have seen in your Son that we would sacrifice even life itself for them.