1 John 3:16-18 ESV
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But 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 talk but in deed and in truth.”
In this world of ours we have some people who are extremely stingy. They are going to hold tight to what they have regardless of who might be in need, and regardless of what surplus they may have available at their fingertips. That should not describe a true child of God.
But then we also have many scam artists (liars, cheats, tricksters, thieves) in this world lurking “on every corner,” it would seem, presenting a picture of poverty and of need when, at least here in America, many of them are making a career of begging, for they can make more money begging than they would if they were working a regular paying job.
And there are definite signs accompanying these scam artists (thieves) which we can begin to recognize and to watch out for, whether they are in person on street corners, or in parking lots, or on the internet, or via text messaging and phone calls. So, this calls for much discernment.
These are people we do not know personally, and we have no way of knowing if they are truly in need other than to observe certain patterns of behavior which are common to scam artists so that we are not taken in by them and robbed of money that could have gone to those in real need. So, we just need to pray and ask the Lord to give us wisdom in these situations to do the right thing, for we don’t want to be giving money to help people kill themselves with drugs or alcohol or to support possible terrorist organizations which may be being funded by beggars.
Now, that may seem a bit cynical, but this is just the reality of the world in which we now live. Especially if you get a phone call from someone trying to get personal information from you on the basis of some lie they are telling you, please don’t give out your personal information, and please never give anyone access to your bank account. These are just some commonsense principles that we need to put into place so that we are not being taken advantage of by liars, tricksters, and thieves, some of whom are preachers.
Now, I am not trying to steer you away from helping people in need, but I am just trying to make you aware that not everyone is who he says he is or is doing what he says he is doing. And this doesn’t just apply to people begging, but it applies to people in positions of government, preachers, pastors, teachers, your next door neighbors, your children, and even your spouses, etc., some of whom are also scam (or con) artists.
This is just the reality that we are living in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, unholy, heartless, without self-control, brutal, and not loving good, etc. (See 2 Timothy 3).
Now, going back to today’s passage, notice with me the wording. “If anyone has the world’s goods and SEES his brother in need..” Now, we can’t always see it, and sometimes we do have to just trust people until they prove themselves to not be trustworthy, but it should be apparent that they are in need. There should be some obvious signs of need, and God can show us.
And, although our generosity shouldn’t be limited to just the family of God, it does specify that this is a Christian brother (or sister) who is in need. And if you are in fellowship with them, you should know them, and it should be somewhat apparent that they have needs, but, sad to say, many within the church are scam artists, too. So all we can do is to pray for wisdom.
But the bottom line here is that, if we are truly God’s children, then we should be willing to lay our lives down for others, specifically for those within the family of God who are in need. For the Scriptures teach that we are to share with others as they have need and that God will supply our needs when we are in need. This is a godly principle to follow.
But let me add some more wisdom here. Don’t rob your own family to feed another. Don’t deprive your own family of their basic needs and then go off and be generous with someone else. And then don’t go begging for help because you gave away what your family needed to live on. I have seen this take place plenty by those who do not use wisdom. For we do need to exercise godly wisdom and discernment in our generosity, too.
So, be generous! Be those who care about others’ needs and who are willing to help meet those needs as God directs. But exercise wisdom, too, and don’t open yourselves wide to being taken advantage of by thieves and liars, for they are many. The money we have belongs to God, so pray for God to direct you to the needs he wants you to help meet, and then just trust him.
1 John 3:19-24 ESV
“By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”
“By this..” seems to be an obvious reference back to the preceding verses (vv. 16-18). If we are being generous in helping others, especially those within the household of faith, when we SEE that they are in need, which shows that we are loving others not just in word (talk), but in deed (action) and in truth, then this should reassure our hearts that we are of the truth.
And I believe this goes along with the wisdom I talked about, too, for many scam artists (preachers included here) will try to heap guilt upon us if we do not give them what they ask for. Even family members might do this to you, too, calling you stingy, and selfish, and not a “good Christian,” because you are exercising godly wisdom in not giving them what they are going to use to get high on drugs or to get drunk on alcohol, and to rob their families of their true needs, etc. Don’t let them guilt trip you into sinning.
If we have prayed about a situation, and we are confident before the Lord that we did the right thing, then we need to put on that armor of God to fight off those lies of Satan which are intended to guilt trip us into yielding to them and to going against the wisdom of God.
For loving others is not just giving them what they want when they want it. Loving others is doing for them what is for their good, for their wellbeing. And sometimes that means telling them “No!” They can call us whatever names they want, but we must do what is for their best, not do just what they want of us, which actually may be to their detriment. So, be wise!!
Okay, so here is the summation of it all. If we love God and if we love others, we will keep (obey) the Lord’s commandments, and they are not just the instructions given to the church in the New Testament, but they are also the Lord’s specific leadings of the Holy Spirit in our lives when the Spirit prompts us to give, or to say something to someone, or to do something for someone, or to write something and share it or whatever. So obey Him!
Listen to Our Hearts
Songwriters: Geoff Moore / Steven Chapman
How do you explain, how do you describe
A love that goes from east to west
And runs as deep as it is wide?
You know all our hopes,
Lord, you know all our fears.
And words cannot express the love we feel,
But we long for You to hear.
So listen to our hearts.
Hear our spirit sing
A song of praise that flows
From those you have redeemed.
We will use the words we know
To tell you what an awesome God You are.
But words are not enough
To tell you of our love,
So listen to our hearts.
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