Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. — John 15:13–14
Looking out across the rolling wooded acres of Arlington National Cemetery, with its hundreds of thousands of white stones in perfectly ordered rows, brings an assortment of emotions that are impossible to escape. Sadness. Desolation. Pride of country. Anger over so many lost young lives. The stones represent tremendous loss as well as the gift of freedom we are able to enjoy.
Arlington National Cemetery is a United States military cemetery located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., in Arlington County, Virginia. Within its 624 acres, over four hundred thousand active-duty service members, veterans, and their families have been buried. In addition to the military heroes, Arlington is also the final resting place for a select number of presidents, astronauts, senators, and Supreme Court justices. Founded during the dark days of the Civil War, the cemetery now contains the remains of military personnel from every American war — from the Revolution to Iraq and Afghanistan.
But what about those of us who have never been called upon to lay down our lives in battle? Is the whole concept of “sacrifice” something for others and not for us? No! The Lord Jesus Christ calls each of His followers to a life of sacrifice, for His sake. The apostle Paul wrote,
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. — Ephesians 5:1–2
Sacrifice isn’t just some dramatic final act of heroism. Sacrifice is also laying down our privileges, benefits, and pleasures for the good of someone else. The book of Hebrews says,
Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. — Hebrews 13:16
We may yet be called on to give up our lives on earth for the sake of another. But in the meantime, Jesus calls us to daily follow Him by giving more attention, care, love, time, and help to others than we give to ourselves.
Lord Jesus, sometimes my sacrifices seem so small, so insignificant, compared with those who have given so very much. But my goal today is to follow You with all my heart, being ready to set aside my own plans and pleasures whenever You call me to.
Sacrifice is a daily determination to put the needs of others before our own.
Excerpted with permission from Seeing God in America, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Come share with us on our blog your thoughts on putting others’ needs before our own. We want to hear from you! To our American readers, it’s Memorial Day. Let’s remember today the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces to protect and defend our freedom. Please share with us whom you are honoring. We pause today with great thanks for their service and sacrifice. ~ Devotionals Daily