6: Laying Down Your Life

1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. NIV

During last night's preseason game between the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals Shannon Sharpe was interviewed briefly. Shannon was formerly a tight end for the Broncos and holds many of the records for both the Broncos and the NFL for his position. Shannon said, "I may not have been the best friend, or the best son, or the best father, but I was the best football player." (That may not be an exact quote, but I think that is pretty close.)

I'm sure you have to sacrifice a lot to be the best at football or at any sport. Some people sacrifice to be the best CEO or employee. Some things can be sacrificed: sleep, leisure time, partying, eating whatever we feel like. Being disciplined with our lives is a good thing. However, some things must not be sacrificed like God, marriage, and children.

I like Shannon. He's a great athlete and a lively character. He's fun to watch on the field, and fun to listen to off of the field. However, sacrificing your children to be the best at football is not something to boast about; it is something to weep over.

Shannon Sharpe's accomplishments will not be remembered or cared about by many in 20 years. In contrast, in twenty years Shannon Sharpe's children will still care deeply about what kind of father they had. In 100 years no one will care about his athletic accomplishments. In 100 years his parenting will have impacted his children's children through several generations. Shannon has laid his life down for football, and sacrificed his children for his own glory.

In this morning's paper there was a story about the standoff in Beslan, Russia. Chechnyan commandos stormed a school there and were holding hundreds of children and adults captive. Twenty-six women and children were released yesterday. One woman was released, but went back in to be with her children who were still captive. Most of the standoff is over now, after ending in a bloody shootout. I don't know what happened to that mother, but I know she willingly risked her own life for her children. She sacrificed her own life to comfort and protect her children.

We also will give our lives to something. Each day our lives are spent and that day is over and gone, never to be spent again. Will we lay our lives down for our God? Our families? Our lost neighbors? For things that are on God's heart? We can't do much about the days that are gone, but what will our remaining days be spent on?

When it comes to parenting, we love our kids, but we need to see that love will translate into sacrifice, not of them, but for them. We sacrifice for them financially, physically, emotionally, and aromically (think diapers) . We sacrifice by choosing not what is best for ourselves, but for them when it comes to careers and pastimes. Anyone who has ever played Candyland as an adult has sacrificed immensely for his child. And sleep? Boy do we sacrifice. This is healthy and normal. It is not painful; it is love.
Lay down your life for others, and especially for your own family. That is the kind of love Christ demonstrated to us, and calls us to as well.

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