“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17).
I just published The One Thing God CanNOT Do earlier this afternoon, but funny thing is that I started writing Faux Compassion a week ago. Maybe I unconsciously set on this post, because there was no way for me to come out of it unscathed, without rebuke. If you haven’t already, I hope that you’ll read The One Thing God CanNOT Do, and I ask that you’ll grant Faux Compassion your prayerful consideration and not rush to judgement. You might think Planned Parenthood and Pride Month are controversial subjects, but I don’t believe there’s a subject out there touchier than money.
“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). The apostle John offers us a direct application to demonstrate whether or not the love of God truly abides within us, in the form of a question. I realize that keeping material things for myself, beyond my own needs, while brothers or sisters suffer, shows a lack of love on my part. Although it is more common to focus on sins like sexual immorality or acts of violence, not that either is any less serious, do we not realize that the greedy will also not inherit the kingdom of heaven? (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21). Long before anyone was disputing controversies like abortion or the LGBT movement, there was greed, and the selfish ambition the world has distorted into a virtue; talk about being brainwashed…geez. Just read Matthew 6:21, and then simply sit quietly and see how quickly your mind conjures up all manners of justifications for the material blessings you already possess, as well as for those you would like to have one day. I’ve written before that God isn’t nearly as concerned with how much we give, as He is with how much we keep, because how much we keep is a reflection of our heart, i.e. Matthew 6:21. Maybe this realization, God willing, will silence a few wagging tongues, as it has my own.
John distinctly states that one cannot have the love of God who sees a brother or sister in need and yet withholds from what is necessary to satisfy that need. Although I don’t believe the apostle is promoting indiscriminate giving here, he does raise a disturbing question concerning the accumulation of wealth by Christians in a world full of so much legitimate need—no, I am not talking about the lazy or idle—there’s plenty of genuine need to go around. After all, it is easy to proclaim the goodness of God from the comforts of suburbia, far removed, and comfortable, even tucked safely behind iron gates and armed guards. I recognize that there is much more to sacrifice than sipping a mocha Frappuccino, while armed with an iPad dispensing advice on social media; or multi-million dollar product campaigns, at the expense of overseas sweatshop labor no less. How twisted we have become as a society, and yes, where applicable, as a church too. In fact, the bride has undergone quite the metamorphosis from the church described in Acts 2: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They [willingly] sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (42-45). Time was surely freely given too.
I’ve written before that blindly throwing money at perceived needs is lazy; in fact, I’ll go so far as to call it harmful and cruel, but hoarding wealth, while genuine need goes unaddressed, in our midst, is an indicator of a very big problem, for a Christian at least. As a culture, as well as a church, we continue reaping the fruits of intellectual laziness and spiritual blindness, whether our efforts are well intentioned or not. I do not believe that love is a matter of convenience, but rather one of personal sacrifice. Christ didn’t love from a distance; He got right in the thick of the need, and it ultimately cost Him His life. But I need not point fingers at any one else, because as I frequently find to be the case, I bear more than enough guilt to keep all ten of my fingers pointed squarely at myself. I have much meditation and prayer ahead of me, and although I anticipate some uncomfortable conversations with the Lord; uncomfortable is, perhaps, the only way to real growth.
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