But whoever has this world’s goods (bios), and sees his brother in need, and shuts up (kleio) his heart from him, how does the love of God abide (meno) in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed (ergon) and in truth (aletheia). (1Jn 3:17-18)
Essence Of Love Is Not…
Do you believe that the essence of love is a feeling? Many of us do. If we do not feel love within towards something, we find it hard to love that something. Let’s take loving Jesus for an example. A young rich man wanted to follow Jesus. So He told the rich young ruler to sell all that he had (echo) and give to the poor (Mk 10:21). This man went away sad. Emotionally, he was more attached to things than he was to the possibility of following Jesus. Notice that Jesus didn’t diminish the request. Are you more attached to something in your life than you are to Jesus?
Essence Of Love Is…
John wrote that the essence of love is sacrifice. “By this we know love, because He laid down His life (psyche=breath or soul) for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1Jn 3:16) John further clarifies this type of love – “…let us love in deed and in truth.” How have you sacrificed yourself to love someone else?
Does God’s Love Abide In You?
John cautioned his readers to avoid a love that does not act to practically help Christians in need. In fact, if you are not willing to help, God’s love does not abide in you. That is a harsh statement, and should force us to examine if God’s love dwells in us. Are you others-centered, or are you focused on your own needs? Jesus helps us answer this question with a simple test. “He who loves (phileo) his life (psyche) will lose it, and he who hates his life (psyche) in this world will keep it for eternal life (zoe).” (Jn 12:25) If we are living our lives with heaven as our possession, we will place God’s will above ours, and our love will focus on God and others more than on ourselves.
God’s Love In Action
When God’s love is in us, we should be aware of the needs of other Christians. After all, our Heavenly Father knows our needs before we ask Him. “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matt 6:8) How does our loving Father meet our needs? Through others. How do we express our love to God and to others? By meeting the needs of others. Perhaps God is prompting you right now to help meet someone’s need.
Our Stuff Is God’s
John uses the phrase “But whoever has this world’s goods…” The word for “goods” is bios, which is not the common word for possessions (hyparchonta). John is simply asking us to give some of what we have that helps us to live. God made it clear in Deut 8:17-18 that He provided what we own, “…then you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth. And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…” Since God ultimately provides for us, we should share what He has given to us to help other Christians.
You Can’t Meet Every Need
Jesus is our example for loving others. He needed time to Himself, and He did not give Himself to everyone. We should be good stewards of our lives as well. He also let us know that the poor will always be with us. “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good…” (Mk 14:7) When we are aware of needs, the Spirit will lead us. God loves a cheerful giver, but there are times when God challenges us to give, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Lk 12:15) Helping to meet needs can prevent us from being covetous.
Giving Without Love
John wrote that if we do not help other Christians, God’s love doesn’t dwell in us. But what about if we give without being motivated by love? Paul answered this question. “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1Cor 13:3) God keeps track of our motives in giving. He wants us to give with the right motives, in sincerity and truth.
Trust In The Living God
God is living. Giving helps us affirm that God is alive. Jesus is risen and His Spirit should be empowering us to live with resurrection power and love. Paul gave us insight into doing good works. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Do you consider yourself rich? Most people in the world would consider you and I rich. Do you trust in the Living God or in your possessions? Like most Americans, this question exposes our tendency to trust in what we have now and how it will provide for us in the future. Since we should be trusting in the Living God, we are able to be rich in good works, ready to give, and willing to share.
The Greatest Is Love
Yes, there is nothing greater than God’s love. Nothing can separate us from His love. Therefore, we, in turn, can love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength (Mark 12:30). And we can love others as ourselves. When you see a Christian in need, remember that the God that meets your needs wants you to help meet the needs of His other children. You will reaffirm that God’s love dwells in you as well. Selah.