Even though the early church had witnessed, firsthand, the works of Jesus, they still weren’t free from problems. John wrote to the early church reminding them that they were blessed, saying, “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him. Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:17 & 18. How can you and I be sure we are loving others in deed and truth and not just in word or speech? I want to share with you three ideas.
First of all, I think quite often, we miss seeing those in need. We may judge others and in the process completely miss their needs because we feel what they are doing is “wrong” or it makes us angry, afraid and depressed. When we’re willing to look deeper we can see the needs. Do you look closely enough to see the needs of others? What if each of us committed to pay attention to the needs of others; to look closely and do something to help someone, not in speech or word, but in action to show someone they are loved by God?
When John addresses the church saying, “If anyone has the world’s goods…” Who do you think he’s talking to? It’s easy to look around and see people who have more than we do. We see the person who has a nicer car, a bigger home and takes better vacations. We’re bombarded with advertising messages reminding us of all that we don’t have, so we start to believe we don’t have enough. If you’ve ever traveled outside of the United States for a mission trip, you know that it always puts things in perspective. When returning home, the reality of our blessings is clear. We have so much in the way of “worldly goods.”
Third, I believe John is reminding the early church to care for others, not out of guilt, but gratitude. It’s what it means to live a life of gratitude. John says, we have been blessed, for God has given his son Jesus Christ. Because we’ve experienced the gift of God’s grace, we’ve experienced the love of Christ - that’s why we care about others. When we give to others, we give to God. Jesus said very plainly, the way you give to God is by caring about his children.