1 John 3:10-16
"We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us--and we ought to lay down our lives for one another."
In the Gospel of John, we read that the greatest expression of love is to "lay down ones life for one's friend." And here, in this letter of First John, we read the same sentiment. What does it mean to "lay down our lives?"
It seems to mean putting our the well-being of others before ourselves. But "Not so fast..." we might say. Can't it be damaging and destructive to always put the thoughts, feelings, and physical well-being of others before ourselves? Wouldn't that be to neglect ourselves?
I think we can come to terms with the idea more clearly if we think not simply of one person "laying down his/her life" for another, but rather a community of people doing this together. If I sacrifice for you, and you sacrifice for me, that's not harmful or destructive; that's love. Love exists among and between people when the needs of one another are made primary rather than focusing on the selfish needs of an individual.
I can be a friend to you when I sacrifice for you. And you can be a friend to me when you sacrifice for me. When we sacrifice together, for one another, we experience true love.