13 July, 2024

July 14 Application | ‘Something Worth Dying For’

by | 8 July, 2024 | 0 comments

By David Faust 

Heavy snow was falling on January 13, 1982, while Air Florida Flight 90 prepared to take off from Washington, D.C.’s National Airport (now called Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport). After being de-iced, the Boeing 737 sat on the runway for another hour while snow and ice built up on its wings. It turned out to be a very short flight.  

Immediately after takeoff, the plane shook violently and struck the 14th Street Bridge before plunging into the Potomac River. Seventy-eight people died in the tragic accident, including 74 of the plane’s occupants and four people in cars on the bridge—but four passengers and one crew member survived.  

Lenny Skutnik, a government worker standing on the Potomac’s shore, saw a woman losing her grip on a helicopter line, so he dove in and dragged her to safety. Arland Williams, a 46-year-old passenger on the plane, repeatedly passed a lifeline to others in the frigid river before slipping under the water himself. (Williams was posthumously honored by President Reagan, and the 14th Street Bridge was renamed in his honor.) 


What inspires such heroic actions? We all have a strong natural instinct to protect our own lives. If there is no God, and survival of the fittest is nature’s rule, why would anyone jeopardize their own safety to save someone else?  

C. S. Lewis answered that question with a helpful analogy. If you are standing on the shore and see someone drowning, two competing impulses arise. Self-preservation tells you to save yourself, but neighbor-love moves you to dive in and rescue the other person.  

Why do we instinctively recognize it is more noble to save someone else than to protect ourselves? Lewis contended that the Creator imprinted an intuitive awareness of right and wrong on our hearts—a universal moral law that prioritizes sacrificial love.  

The two commands Jesus called greatest—love for God and love for neighbors—lead to sacrifices and blessings a self-centered person will never understand. 


Queen Esther faced a tough choice. Tragedy was on the horizon unless someone could persuade King Xerxes to change his cruel edict requiring annihilation of the Jews. Persian law required that anyone—even the queen—who approached the king’s throne without an invitation would be put to death unless the king extended his golden scepter as a sign of acceptance. However, Esther’s cousin Mordecai advised her not to remain silent but to confront the king to seek deliverance for the Jewish people.  

Mordecai asked Esther to consider the possibility that God put her in a royal position “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). After seeking others’ support in a three-day fast, Esther announced, “I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). 

Sacrificial love takes bold risks for others’ sake. The apostle Paul wrote, “For a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).  

Esther’s bravery helped to save the Jewish people from annihilation. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). What people, causes, or convictions do you love so much that you would be willing to die for them?  

Personal Challenge: In small ways or large ways, how will you lay down your life for your brothers and sisters this week? (See 1 John 3:16.) 


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