It is Valentine’s Day. What will you give to the Valentine in your life?
Jesus set the example of unselfish giving when He gave His life for us, and the Bible tells us that there is no greater love than the laying down of one’s life: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13-14 NIV)
But what does it mean to lay down your life for someone?
Most of us may never find ourselves in the situation where we would actually have to put our own lives on the line for someone else, but I believe that “lay down his life for his friends” means even more than this. I believe it is something that each of us can attain.
My husband recently gave me the most wonderful gift possible. For our 25th wedding anniversary, which we celebrated at Christmas time this year, he took me to New Zealand. He planned this trip as a surprise, and he arranged everything in advance. He had all of the hotels, hostels and rental cars reserved, he pre-purchased all the plane tickets, he researched and reserved the nicest tours, he planned the entire trip to the minutest detail, so that it would be the perfect trip in my eyes.
The hours he put into the planning must have numbered at least a thousand, and each time he planned something, he would spend hours agonizing over it to ensure that it was something that I would enjoy, and not something that only he would enjoy. As a matter of fact, he later told me that he had initially planned a complete trip to a different destination, but that he had abandoned this trip because he realized that the destination was more for his pleasure than for mine!
As the trip actually progressed, I couldn’t help being more and more struck by the specialness of this gift. Besides the hours of planning and research, it had required that he analyze what he knew about me so that he could do everything in his power to make sure each step of the trip would be especially special. It was completely free of himself, it was totally given from an unselfish heart. He could not have shown me more love than he did in the giving of this trip. It was truly a gift from the heart.
I believe that the principles my husband used in planning this trip are in keeping with the idea of laying down one’s life for someone else. When we unselfishly give of ourselves for someone else, we are, in essence, laying down our lives for them. And this is what constitutes the greatest of gifts: Unselfishly giving of one’s self for someone else!
It’s true that our trip was huge and expensive, but the perfect gift doesn’t have to be that way. It can be something as simple as a soft word of encouragement spoken at just the right time or an offer to do the dishes when you see that your spouse is at the end of his or her rope. It could be taking the kids out for a couple of hours so that your loved one can get some much-needed rest. It could even mean putting aside your pressing work or chores to spend quality time with that one who is special to you. What it must involve is the unselfish giving of one’s self. It requires being in tune with your loved one, and always being there for them when they need it. It means putting the needs and desires of someone else above your own.
As you consider what your Valentine’s present will be for the one you love today, remember it isn’t the value or the size of the gift. It is the unselfish giving of yourself that matters most.
And while you are planning the perfect Valentine’s present for that special someone in your life, don’t forget about the One who loves you perfectly, the One who laid down His life for you! He likes nothing more than to spend quality time with you.
And also remember, that when you give unselfishly of yourself to someone else, you are also giving that gift back to God! When you think about it, it isn’t so hard to give gifts to God!
In His love, Lyn
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org