Lay It Down

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

Want to show real love? Lay down your life for others.

Here’s a real-life example …

A man named Maximilian Kolbe oversaw a monastery in Poland. After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, Father Kolbe turned the monastery into a sanctuary that housed thousands of Poles and Jews seeking refuge.

Kolbe also published a monthly magazine with a readership of about one million. The Nazis weren’t big fans of his anti-Gestapo pro-God writings. They allowed him to print one final issue in December 1940, hoping he would say something incriminating.

Did Kolbe hold back, knowing the Nazis were reading? Nope. Here are just a few of his words:

The real conflict is inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the catacombs of concentration camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depths of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost selves?

On February 17, 1941, Kolbe was arrested for aiding the Polish and Jewish underground. He was sent to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp.

In July 1941, a man from Kolbe’s cell block disappeared. To deter further escape attempts, the camp commandant selected ten men at random to be put to death. One man, Francis Gajowniczek cried out, “My wife, my children. I shall never see them again!”

Father Kolbe stepped forward and volunteered to take the man’s place. The commandant asked: “Who are you?” Kolbe replied: “I am a Catholic priest. I wish to die for that man. I am old. He has a wife and children.” Kolbe and the nine others were taken away to be starved to death.

During their time of torture, Kolbe told the others about Jesus and led them in prayers and hymns. After three weeks of starvation, the guards were amazed that Kolbe and three others were still alive. They also found it odd that every time they checked on the group, Kolbe was always kneeling or standing peacefully in the middle of the cell, while the others writhed on the floor, moaning and complaining.

When Kolbe was still alive several days later, the guards decided to kill him with a lethal injection. Kolbe raised his arm calmly and went to be with the Lord.

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