“For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses ever. It would definitely be on the Bible’s greatest hits CD! We all have encountered this verse whether it be on a tract, a billboard, or some guy holding a cardboard sign behind the field goal post at an NFL game. It is one of the most important verses our old pal John ever wrote. Some call it the “Pillar of Salvation”
This month, are going to look at another 3:16 written by John, but this time it is found in 1 John. While it doesn’t get quite the same press the other John 3:16 gets, it is also a pivotal verse for all God’s men. If John 3:16 is the “Pillar of Salvation”, than this verse is the Pillar of Sanctification”, because in this one verse, John shows us how we become like Jesus and become the men God wants us to be. Let’s look together at the other John 3:16 as we return again to 1 John.
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 and sisters.
The number one job for God’s men is to lay down their lives for others. We are to serve others and put their needs ahead of our own.
I remember the first time I heard this verse. My dad, who had a lot of issues in his past that were affecting his present and future, was going to counseling to try and get some help. During part of the counseling, the subject of marriage came up, and after speaking with my dad, the counselor realized that the biggest issue my dad has was he wasn’t laying down his life for my mom. He asked my dad if he would be willing to die for my mom, and of course, my dad said "Yes."
But then the counselor switched it up and asked him if he was willing to live for my mom. Would he make his life goal to serve her, sacrifice for her, and take care of her? This counselor got what John is teaching us in the other John 3:16.
God aches for a generation of men to rise up and be a generation of servants. The world has seen quite enough of God’s men who think they are too good to get their hands dirty and serve others. He wants men with the heart of Jesus who realize that no job, no task, no responsibility, nothing is below them. God wants men who lay down their lives with a heart of service to Him.
I know this is a lesson I had to learn in my own life. You see, I am the only son in my family. My dad and his family had a weird issue where they treated sons like they were princes. I am not exaggerating. They spoiled boys, treated them like royalty, and taught them to expect such treatment. It was really weird. Still, I grew up in this environment, and as a result, I learned how to be a taker, not a giver.
I expected people to serve me. I demanded people take care of me, do for me, and treat me well. I demanded respect. I never looked to serve others, but expected them to serve me, especially women.
Then I reached the point in life where I realized what a wreck I was and how far I was being a godly man. I knew I had to change every area of my life. As God began working on my heart and removing years of crap and sin from inside of me, He started showing me how sinful my attitude of demanding others to serve me was and how I was demeaning other people. He began teaching me that a man of God cannot lord over others, but needs to be a man who serves. Then He took me through servant school.
What do I mean by "servant school"?
Well, I learned to serve. I learned how to put other people’s needs and desires above my own. You see, during this time, my mom developed a severe environmental allergy that made her extremely sensitive to smells. If she got around certain smells such as perfume or paint, etc, her lungs would shut down and she would need to be rushed to a doctor immediately. So during this time, life revolved around taking care of my mom and making sure she never got around anything with a smell.
While this was a horrible situation for my mom, God took this evil and used it for some good, because I had to learn how to not have life revolve around me and my desires and to instead have my entire life revolve around serving others. My schedule, my activities, my way of life, everything had to change because my mom needed me and my sister to take care of her.
God used this time in my life to develop a servant’s heart. He totally transformed an arrogant, selfish kid and made me into a man who serves people on a daily basis. I know if He did this for me, He will do it for you, too!
So now that we have learned why we need to be servants, let’s switch gears and see who we are to serve. Who should we be laying our lives down for?
1. We are to lay down our lives for God.
You are probably thinking “Duh!” We all know we need to serve God. But do we really know what this means?
You see, serving God is more than just going to church and reading the Bible. Now, I am in no way diminishing those two areas. They are HUGE! They need to be a part of every man’s life. But we serve God in more ways than this. One of the biggest ways we serve God is to stop treating His heart’s desire for us as the Great Option instead of what it really was, the Great Commission!
Matthew 28:18 says “ Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”.
This passage is basically a commission to serve. We are to serve God by reaching the lost world and sharing with them the Gospel that can change their entire lives. This job is not just for preachers and pastors. It is everyone’s job! We serve God by serving the lost world and pointing them towards a Savior. We need to make ourselves available to the lost and serve them in order to help them become believers.
How do we serve the lost? There are millions of ways. A few ideas could be to volunteer to work in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Maybe you could volunteer to drive people to church. You could invite a friend to a church activity, and pay their way. We often encourage men who are going to attend a Mantour conference to pay for two registrations and bring an unsaved friend. We don’t do this so we make more on the registration, we do it to encourage them to lay down a small part of themselves for God and an unsaved man in hopes of seeing the man become part of God’s kingdom. The possibilities are endless for ways you to lay down your life and reach out to the lost around you. Ask God to show you ways you can serve Him by helping others. I guarantee He will answer this prayer, because it lines up with His will.
2. We are to lay down our lives for our families.
This is a concept that was a foreign notion to me 20 years ago. I never served any of my family members. Instead, I expected and demanded they serve me. Unfortunately, many men have the same attitude.
Men of God, we cannot continue on expecting the precious ones God has blessed us with in our lives to serve us. We are to lay ourselves down for them and serve them.
Ephesians 5 has some great teaching on how a man needs to treat their families. Let’s look at the different relationships.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself
This is an excellent passage to show how a man serves his wife. Paul says a husband needs to love his wife like Jesus loved the church. In order to get the full meaning of this passage, we need to understand how Jesus loved the church.
When Jesus was on earth, His entire life revolved around serving. If we study the Gospels, we can see ways that He served the church that we can apply to our relationships.
First, He put their needs above His needs. Jesus constantly had thousands of people coming to Him and needing His help and assistance. They had urgent needs and they needed His miraculous power to help them. Jesus never turned them away. Even when He was tired or hungry, He put their needs and issues above His needs.
Here is an interesting way to serve your wife that few man ever think about actually being service. How many of you have ever had your wife come to you and dump all of her emotions and feelings out on you and tell you exactly what she thinks of you and what you are doing? I know you all have had this happen, I am single and had this happen! Often our response is to lash back in kind. However, next time we need to follow Jesus example and not respond in kind. We serve our wives by instead just taking it and then trying to help her.
When did Jesus do this? We see a perfect example of this in the John 11. Jesus and His men are on the road doing their thing when a messenger runs up to Jesus with some news. His good friend Lazarus is gravely ill and His sisters, Mary and Martha, want Jesus their asap to heal him!
Instead of returning with the messenger right away, Jesus stays where He is for 2 days. By the time He makes it to Lazarus’ house, Lazarus was dead. Needless to say, Mary and Martha were not too thrilled with Jesus.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if You had been here, my brother would not have died…32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Basically, these two distraught women lash out at Jesus, blaming Him for the death of their brother! Instead of lashing out in anger at them, Jesus saw through their tongue lashing to the pain behind it and instead ministered to their need. He served their need instead of reacting to their action. Guys, we need to do the same thing.
Jesus served the church in so many ways, and all of them can be applied to our relationships. God’s men need to start serving their wives in the same way that Jesus served the church.
Paul’s words don’t just stop at how we serve our wives. He has more to say.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.
I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a minute Jamie, this passage is how our kids need to treat me!”
Well, my question in response is this….where you hatched in an egg? Even if you are married with kids, you are still the child of someone. So this verse applies to you, too.
It is a child’s responsibility to show respect to their parents and serve them when possible. Now, if you are like me and come from an abusive background, you are probably freaking out right now! I know years ago I would have been. But even if your parents were abusive, you still need to serve them in love.
Now I am not saying you need to allow them to abuse you, control you, or mistreat you. What I am saying is you need to treat them with dignity and respect. You have to honor your parents. You need to be there to help them when they need help, and to show them the love of God.
I had to come to the place in life where I had to decide I would do this in my life. Serving my mom was easy, she was a loving, devoted mom who was sick and needed help. However, my dad was another thing altogether.
After my mom died, I had to face this area of my life. To be totally honest with you, my attitude at this point was, “I am outta here!” My dad was on his own as far as I was concerned. He had been my abuser my whole life, He had abused my mom till the day she died, and when she went to Heaven, I was done!
However, God had other plans. He told me point blank, “You are not going to abandon your dad. You are going to stay with him and show him my forgiveness and godly love!”
I had to obey God, lay down my feelings and desires, and show the Love of God to my dad. I won’t lie, it is hard, but God wants me honoring him and serving Him, so I obey.
Now, I DO NOT ALLOW MY DAD TO ABUSE ME. That is a huge point. But I do show him honor and respect as my father, even though I do not agree with or excuse his life choices. Why do I do it? Because God calls his men to lay our lives down for others and serve.
A man of God needs to also serve his children. This goes in direct opposition to our culture which teaches that children should serve their parents, but a parent needs to put make their children their number one priority in life and help them in any way possible.
A quick side note before we look at the third group we need to serve. When I say parents should serve their kids, I do not mean they need to spoil them. Serving does what is best for them. Spoiling is not what is best. All spoiling a child does is teach them to be served, and when they grow up, they won’t have a servant's heart. What a parent needs to do is set an example of service that the child will learn and carry on when they grow up.
3. We are to lay down our lives for our church.
The final area we are going to examine to look at that men of God need to be serving is in their local churches. God wants his men to be more than just a butt in the pew. He wants us to serve other believers. He wants us investing our time into others to help them grow in their walk with God.
The good news is that I have never heard of a church that refuses help. There are loads of ways to serve.
Maybe you are thinking, “I don’t think I can serve in a church. I can’t preach or teach.” Maybe you can’t do these things but there are endless ways you can serve that don’t even involve these activities. What do I mean?
Do weeds grow at your church? Of course they do! You could serve the church by pulling weeds. Do you know how to fix cars? You could maintain your churches vehicles. Are you handy with a paintbrush? I am sure your church has a room in need of some sprucing up. Are you a good handyman? Churches have loads of projects that need worked on.
Manual labor not your thing? What about working with your churches boys ministry or youth ministry as an adult helper? You could influence the lives of so many young men who are longing for the attention and approval of a godly man.
You could volunteer to come to church 15 minutes early and greet people. You could offer to be the person who pours the grape juice into the cups on communion Sunday. The ways to serve your church are innumerable. All you have to be is willing to serve.
“But Jamie, my life is jam-packed as it is! How am I supposed to find time to do volunteer work?” This can be answered in one word…Sacrifice. That is the heart of laying down your life for others, you sacrifice yourself, your time, your wishes, and your desires so you can serve others.
Serving others need to be a priority in our lives. Why? Because Jesus made it a priority, and we are suppose to be working towards daily becoming more like Jesus. That is the thrust of the other John 3:16…Jesus laid down His life for us, and we need to do the same for others. This is the sign of a real man, a godly man!