Justin Tucker, Worship Pastor LHBC

John 15:12-13

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

On January 13th, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 took off from Washington National Airport in D.C., bound for Miami, crashed into the 14th Street Bridge after failing to gain altitude. The plane struck several vehicles on the bridge and then fell off and into the freezing waters of the Potomac River. Only 6 of the 79 crew and passengers survived the crash  and were desperately trying to stay afloat in the frozen river. Bystanders and a U.S. Parks Police helicopter quickly began rescue efforts to save the survivors from the river. When the rope came to the first survivor, Arland Williams, he passed it off to another victim that was hurt worse than he was so that they could be raised to safety. He made sure that everyone that had survived the initial crash made it to safety. When the rescuers returned for Williams, he was gone. Arland Williams ultimately lost his life to save five strangers. He could’ve been the first man out of the water and survived but he chose to stay to ensure the safety and rescue of others. On June 6, 1983, Williams was posthumously awarded the United States Coast Guard’s Gold Lifesaving Medal by President Ronald Reagan. In his address to William’s family he said,”If the man in the water gave a lifeline to the people gasping for survival, he was likewise giving a lifeline to those who observed him.”

Isn’t that the way that we should live our lives? Sacrificial living that puts others first? It’s what Jesus did. Studies show that one of the biggest reasons that depression and anxiety is on the rise is because we are self-centered and self-absorbed. We  miss out on the opportunities to do for others and speak life into others because our society has become so narcissistic. We’re too worried about what others think of us that we can’t actually affect the lives of others. Friends, we are called to dig through the wreckage of other people’s lives and be a life-line that points others to rescue and safety that only comes from Jesus. It may cost us time, energy, money, relationships, or reputation to step into other people’s mess with them and love them. Romans 12:9 says: Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. To really love others, you must remove your mask and take risks. Love can be costly, but lasting connections are only made when you risk your heart.

Great love requires sacrifice. You don’t have to literally die for someone else to prove your love for them. However, you may need to die to yourself many times in your relationships to make improvements. Putting others first usually requires a sacrifice on your part. You may need to give up time, energy or personal preferences for someone else’s benefit. When you do this, you love others the way Jesus did. It’s the highest form of love with the most potential for rewarding relationships. Time magazine wrote this about Arland Williams: “If the man in the water gave a lifeline to the people gasping for survival, he was likewise giving a lifeline to those who observed him.” Let us be a lifeline to those whose lives we step into and to those who are just watching.


Lord, teach us to love like You. Teach us to see people through your eyes. Teach us to step into the mess of other people’s lives the way you stepped into ours. Break us from the chains of self-centeredness. Grow us in humility and compassion. Grow us to be people of empathy. We have received the greatest gift of love that we ever could through Jesus, fill us with Your Spirit and embolden us to share that gift with the world. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Proverbs 25:28

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.