John 15:13 tells us that “The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends.”
Fort Valley State University, a small historically black school located in central Georgia is grieving the death of Donnell Phelps. The 19-year-old freshman was fatally stabbed as he came to the defense of three young women who were being harassed by the alleged suspect.
Donnell laid down his life for his friends
This verse in the Gospel of John “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one`s life for his friends” (John 15:13). tells us a lot about God`s love:
However, many people interpret this verse to mean that you must do as Jesus and Donnell did in the sense of actually dying for others.
This is not the crux of what this verse means although in rare occasions, as we witness with Donnell, God might call someone to die so that someone else could know Jesus.
What the verse really means is this: Laying down your life for others is putting them first and making their needs more important than your own.
The verse is about being selfless and sacrificial in our actions towards others rather than selfish.
In another verse in in John tell us this: “These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17).
By seeking to show love to our friends, family and those who also know Jesus, we reveal love to those who don`t know Him. Our love bears testimony of His life.
In John chapter 13, we find the passage where Jesus washes His disciples` feet. He tells us that this is an example of how we should treat one another:
“For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 15:15).
Again, this does not mean we need to wash people`s feet although, God could ask that of us. Washing feet in those days was part of the culture since people wore sandals and their feet became dirty after walking.
What it means for us today is that God wants us to serve other people, to honor and esteem them above ourselves. When we do this, we show God`s love as we lay down our life for others.
“The greatest love people can show is to die for their friends.”
Today to honor young Donnell and to show our love for Jesus. Let’s go out of our way to lend a hand to those in need, to show compassion even to those who do not deserve it, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Donnell Phelps has set the example that as disciples of Jesus we must give greater love.