There was occasion in my sermon today to talk about my wife’s grandmother. It was in the context of thinking about people who “lay down their life for others.” For me, she’s the first person to comes to mind under that category.
Granny Mehrings lived well into her nineties, and at her funeral no one could think of one ill thing she had ever said about another person. Ever. She always put the best construction on everything. She built others up. She never drew attention to herself. Over the years she washed, cleaned, and pressed thousands of altar cloths as part of her duties for the altar guild of Trinity Lutheran Church, all to serve others and her beloved church.
But when others would point out to her these incredibly positive qualities, Granny Mehrings had a very singular response: “You don’t know me like I do.” I suppose that’s true. We didn’t know her like she did. We all have deep secrets and skeletons in our closets that only we know.
When I shared the sermon with Granny Mehrings’ own daughter, my wife’s mother, she responded:
She knew she needed and was assured of forgiveness. That, of course, was what made it so possible for her to be forgiving of others.
When I recognize my own sin and shortcomings, and my own vast need for forgiveness, it’s far easier for me to forgive. “You don’t know me like I do.” And if you did, you would recognize my need for forgiveness just like I do.
But that’s the jumping off point for laying down one’s life for others. In no way have I deserved the love and forgiveness I have received from God because of Jesus Christ. And yet He has given it to me in full measure. Because He knows me better than I do and still loves and forgives.
If he has first done that for me, how can I help but do it for others. Granny Mehrings knew that. God grant that I do to. And live it.
Whom is it in your life that demonstrates the phrase “laying down one’s life for others”?