“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13 (NIV)
I have a confession. I love to get my way. Oh, I go about it rather cryptically, appearing to just be logical or thoughtful, but really — deep down inside — I know what I want. And usually, I know just how to get it.
Perhaps this is why I love going to the coffeehouse. I can step up to the counter and rattle off to the barista my high-maintenance order, and my coffee turns out just like I did like it: “a grande, decaf, skim milk mocha, with 1‑½ pumps of coconut flavoring, 1‑½ pumps almond flavoring, light whipped cream, slight drizzle of chocolate, extra hot and double-cupped, please.” (See, I told you it was high maintenance!)
While it works at the coffeehouse, sometimes with the people closest to me, getting my way gets in the way of my relationships.
Usually it goes like this: We are traveling as a family and need to decide where we’d like to eat. I know which restaurant I want. Unfortunately, the members of my family like a different eatery. So, I’ll try my best to convince them my choice is better.
Or perhaps it’s time to spruce up the living room with a fresh coat of paint. I want to decide what color is best. My husband may have his own opinion, but somehow I’ll manipulate the situation so “sage green” wins over his “boring tan.”
From matters as small as what brand of ketchup to buy, to huge decisions such as purchasing a house, I am very vocal — and equally convincing — when it comes to getting my way. And my large-and-in-charge bossy ways can cause conflict and friction with others.
This dilemma really isn’t new. Our ancestor Eve exhibited this behavior back in the Garden of Eden when she decided she knew better than God. She ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God commanded her not to eat. Humankind’s relationship with God experienced its first conflict, and sin entered the world.
Today, to get our way, we might employ various tactics: reasoning, arguing, pleading or even pouting — anything to secure the outcome we desire. But one day when reading today’s key verse, I gained a fresh insight on this familiar scripture.
In John 15:12-13, Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I used to think about the dramatic ways one might lay down their life, like getting in harm’s way to save a friend from a deadly injury. Or a soldier might willingly give up his or her life on the battlefield. While these are certainly true and noble, I have come to think of this passage in a more practical way.
What if we gave up our quest to get our own way in everyday life?
What if we stopped needing to be the one in our relationships — especially our marriages — who decides all of the time? Laid down our will and desires for how life goes that day and deferred to another. It doesn’t mean we don’t contribute our thoughts, or make our case, but we don’t insist on all decisions going our way. This action of laying aside our desires for another’s certainly is a way to show love.
It hasn’t been easy, but viewing this verse as an encouragement to stop trying to get my own way and let others decide has been so freeing! I have learned others have good ideas and allowing someone else to choose helps me become less selfish. Yes, laying down our lives in even the smallest ways shows love for others and reverence for Christ. And it helps us decision-loving gals learn to let go and let others have a say.
Father, forgive me for the times I try to get my own way without listening to others or letting them in on the decision-making process. I want to learn to lay down my life — in ways both big and small. Help me be more like Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (NIV)
Romans 12:10, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Will you dare today to defer to others in both small and big decisions? What is one area where you might do this in the next few days?