“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:9-12

The phrase ‘to stick one’s neck out’ is commonly accepted to mean that one risks something, usually of significant cost to himself, for another. There are two probable origins of this idiom; the slaughter of chickens and the tortoise sticking its head out to have a look around. In both these instances, we can easily see why sticking the neck out can literally bring danger. So beloved, stuck your neck out for anyone lately?

Sticking our necks out is not usually something that we like to do. Humans are a selfish species, mostly, and will seldom risk personal loss or injury for another, as Polonius aptly advised his son Laertes in Hamlet.

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,”

But where the world screams, ‘Stupid’;

Our Father smiles and says, ‘Well done’. For if you have ever stuck your neck out for someone, you are doing exactly what our Father commanded.

Now, Jesus is not a God of ‘all talk and no action’. He tells us exactly what He wants us to do and then goes ahead and does it.

“No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.” John 15:13 [AMPC]

Indeed, there is none more noble than the one who would give up his life for his friends. And though we marvel at its heroism in the movies, many of us will never even want to come close in real life. That is probably because we don’t love anything quite that much that we are willing to give up our lives for it.

This reminds me of a scene in Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood where Robin and his sidekick were discussing their women. They finally came to the collective conclusion that their women were, individually, good enough for them ‘to die for’. Men.

Yet this phrase is often used in secular contexts, isn’t it? That pie is ‘to die for’. That ice cream is ‘to die for’. But seriously, you would die for pie?

But you know what? Jesus not only thinks that you are ‘to die for’, He actually went and died for you. For indeed,

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” John 3:16 [AMPC]

But it is fine and well to talk about living as Christ lived and loving as Christ loves. The reality is that there are some people who are just downright unlovable; because when you love them, they take the opportunity to abuse you so badly that it hurts you no end. You know the kind of people that I am talking about. We all have met them. Surely we can’t be faulted for not loving them?

Well beloved, yes, you are right, we are not faulted for not loving them. Our salvation and our Father’s love for us is not contingent upon us loving them. Our salvation and our Father’s love for us has already been secured by Jesus’ death on the cross and our belief in His love for us. So no matter what happens,

“Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 [AMPC]

“For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.” John 3:17 [AMPC]

But wouldn’t it be great if we tried?

But you have tried, and you were severely hurt; and this not once, but over and over again. Should you try again?

Well beloved, because you have tried, because you have loved another as Christ loved you, you can rest and not worry about whether you should continue to love that person; because our Father knows your heart and truly you are abiding in His love. And because you are abiding in His love, though you may be hurt, yet His joy will fill you, as Jesus has promised,

“I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing.” John 15:11 [AMPC]

Think back to the moment you loved another as Christ loved you. Were you not filled with a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and joy? That is the joy and gladness that Jesus wants to be complete and overflowing in you. And though you may have been hurt after the fact, has that initial joy been removed from you? Do you feel any less satisfaction when you look back upon that act of love?

Now think about just how much you are loved by Christ. To Him, you are literally ‘to die for’ because He died for you. Do you think that He will let any harm come to the one whom He so greatly loves and dearly prizes? Do you think He will allow any power to harm the one He died for? So mortal man has been mean to you once in a while, of what cost is that when we consider that our Father has promised,

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16

And this promise is so real that it caused David to declare

“Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;” Psalm 91:9-10
“You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.” Psalm 91:5-8

And Paul to say

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

For indeed, Jesus has promised,

“And this is the will of Him Who sent Me, that I should not lose any of all that He has given Me, but that I should give new life and raise [them all] up at the last day.
For this is My Father’s will and His purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day.” John 6:39-40 [AMPC]

So should you continue to love as Christ loves? Even though it may be painful sometimes? Yes. But not on your own effort, for

“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

Let Him give you the energy and grace to continue to abide in His love for you.

So go ahead, stick your neck out for that someone. Jesus will never let you down.

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