Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Love in truth - 1 John 3:17-18

"But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." (1 John 3:17-18)
There will always be those in need. Jesus told us "you always have the poor with you." (Matthew 26:11) Even in the church, among our own brothers and sisters, there will be those in need; those towards whom we have the opportunity to practice our Christian charity. To some God has given extra, and to others He has given need, that together we might jointly care one for another. Paul says that, "God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another." (1 Corinthians 12:24-25) The term Paul uses here for "care" carries with it the connotation of distraction. God desires us to be distracted from our self-absorbed lives that we might become attentive to the needs of others.

However, God has not called some to be burdened so that others might be eased, but He has called us to equity; those who have sharing their extra with those who lack. We are not called to give away our own necessities so that others might become idle in regards to their necessities. Paul writes, "For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality —  at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.'" (2 Corinthians 8:12-15) As believers, we are called into a symbiotic relationship with each other; allowing our excess to supply their lack and receiving with thanksgiving the supply of others when we lack.

Our motivation for equity is not for the sake of social justice but for the sake of love. Justice does not care for inequity, but love does. What should motivate us is the love we have received from God. If God has so loved us and cared for us then ought we not to love and care for others? If we see the needs of others, and possess the means to meet those needs, ought we not to give of our excess to help them in their need? To withhold such help is to withhold love and to deny the love of God that fills our hearts. How can we abide in God's love and, at the same time, deny it to those around us?

The expression of our love also needs to be tangible. Those in need need the tangible expressions of love more than they need the emotions of love conveyed in words. To love only with words is to love with falsehood. It says of God that "He gave His Son;" (John 3:16) a tangible act to a genuine love. God did not just tell us He loves us, He demonstrated it by His actions and His gifts towards us. Let's be honest with ourselves; love that is in truth is a love that is expressed tangibly. Love is a verb!

David Robison

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