There’s a small passage hidden in a little book in our Bible. It’s apparently very easy to overlook; in fact, Christians in America seem to have an especially difficult time locating these two verses, more so than perhaps any other country. The passage is I John 3:17-18, and it goes something like this:
“If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but shuts off his compassion from him—how can God’s love reside in him? Little children, we must not love in word or speech, but in deed and truth;” (HCSB)
Have you ever read this passage? I confess, I have read the Bible through a couple of times in my life, and while I am certain I must have read these verses before, it certainly did not ring a bell. I suspect I know why.
Do you sense the gravity in these two small verses? Are you gripped by the weight of what they mean? We are blessed beyond comparison with any people in history. We live in absolute comfort compared to more than three quarters of the population of this planet. We may not have as much as our next door neighbor, but we have infinitely more than those who are half a world away from our front door. There are literally millions of Christians who will wake up tomorrow without indoor plumbing and without any clean water to drink. They have only the clothes on their back, and even those are beginning to show considerable wear. They have no shoes and they must walk for miles to find clean drinking water. Their bed is the ground within the four shaky walls that they call home. There is one room in their house, which serves as sleeping, eating and living quarters. Income is non-existent and the prospects of that changing are very grim. If they are lucky, they will have a single, simple meal today. This is reality. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Read the passage of scripture again. Can you honestly say that you are unaware of any brothers in need? In our modern era of cable television and the internet, one no longer has the excuse of ignorance. We know the situation in many parts of the world; even if we make every attempt to ignore these facts, the truth remains. We know! Perhaps worse still, in light of the passage above, We know we have more than we actually need. We more than likely do not have more than we want, but we do have more than we need. We have indoor plumbing, clean water at our fingertips whenever we so desire and a comfortable mattress to lie down on at night. Truth be told, we probably even have a guest bedroom that is vacant more often than not. When you lie down to sleep tonight, I hope one thought fills your mind; that thought is that you know. You know you have more than you need, and you know you have brothers in sister that are in need.
In light of I John 3:17-18, how will we respond? If we do not share with others, then we cannot claim to have the love of God within us. If we do not have the love of God within us, we cannot be followers of Christ; to think otherwise is simply rationalizing to make ourselves feel better. Rationalization, however, does not change the truth.
So now you know; what will you do? Will we continue to pretend to be unaware of the needs of our brothers and sisters while enjoying our creature comforts? How will we explain our actions when God demands an accounting from us? If we would be followers of Christ, we have no option. If we would have the love of God in us, we must respond promptly and with compassion. This is not an easy teaching and some will fall away at this point. If you desire to continue a passionate pursuit of Christ, then you must at once begin divesting yourself of the superfluous trappings of this world and giving them instead to your brothers and sisters in need; because now you know.