They Gave Their Lives
By Scott Brown
“They gave their lives”… That simple inscription sits above the door to the Australian War Memorial. These four words etched in stone reflect the legacy of countless soldiers whose names line the poppy-covered walls leading toward the entrance. Their sacrifices are permanently memorialised for future generations to admire, and even emulate, because they were directed toward something meaningful – something bigger than themselves. Toward something of absolute importance and lasting significance, impacting decades to follow.
It’s a remarkable tribute, because it acknowledges that the value of these lives was not simply measured in days, but in purpose and impact… in the mission those lives were given to accomplish. As vital as their mission was, its importance can’t compare to the mission we’ve been given in Christ – a mission with eternal purpose and scope. Therefore, you and I must be all the more diligent to see our lives lead in the mission God has given us as followers of Christ. So what are we to give our lives to as Jesus’ disciples?
1. Love God
First and foremost, we are called to be worshippers of God, not just workers for Him. In Matthew 22:34–40, Jesus distils the entire law down to two essential “to do’s” – the first being “Love God”. The One who formed us and called us, who showed favour to those deserving punishment and gave life and freedom to His enemies, asks simply that we love Him in return; that we surrender every part of ourselves – all our heart, soul and mind – to the pursuit of knowing and loving Him and to expressing that love through eager obedience and growing in godliness.
2. Love Others
Motivated toward God’s purposes because of His love and compassion for us, and stirred to action by our affection and desire for Him, we can embrace the second command – “Love others [your neighbour]”.
We are to love others not as the world loves, but as Christ loved us. This love for others must have an effect. It must go beyond warm feelings and neighbourly pleasantries to an impassioned pursuit of doing all the good we can for the benefit and blessing of others, and never be out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility considering others of greater importance. Giving ourselves to these commands would lay the groundwork for significantly fruitful, fulfilling and praiseworthy lives.
3. Multiplying Disciples
The culmination and direct outworking of these two commands comes in Matthew 28:16–20, as Jesus further clarifies what we’re meant to give our lives to as His followers. In an act of love for God and for others, we are commissioned to “go and make disciples of all nations”.
Jesus entrusts the mission of carrying the gospel throughout the earth to a frightened, doubting and immature band of brothers – a diverse collection of ordinary and unschooled men whose only qualifications are that they love God, have faith in His promises and trust His purposes. Yet, empowered by the Holy Spirit and emboldened by Jesus’ promise to be with them, they surrendered every aspect of their lives to see this commissioning fulfilled – to advance the kingdom of Jesus and pass the calling on to generations of faithful fellow-workers just like them. Ordinary life after ordinary life, spiritual generation after spiritual generation, nation after nation… leading others to become lovers of God, lovers of others and makers of disciples.
4. Lead On
If you love Christ and desire to follow Him, this is the inheritance you’ve received. It’s the glorious calling to surrender your life and take up the work of making disciples today out of a passionate love for God and a compassionate love for people. It’s carrying the gospel and the kingdom forward where, one life at a time, you’re leading through both word and deed so that, now through us, as ordinary as we are, lives will be transformed and further spiritual generations born, all to the glory of God. May we give ourselves whole-heartedly to this mission in hope that at the end of our days it may also be said of us… They gave their lives!