Scripture References: 1 John 3:11-24
Indifference (1 John 3:16–17) – Continued
From last lesson: It is easy for us to talk about “loving the brethren” and to neglect to help a single other believer. Christian love is personal and active.
This is what Jesus had in mind in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37). A lawyer wanted to talk about an abstract subject: “Who is my neighbor?” But Jesus focused attention on one man in need, and changed the question to, “To whom can I be a neighbor?”
It is easier to forget the individual and his needs while discussing generalities. The test of Christian love is not in loud professions about loving the whole church, but in quietly helping a brother who is in need. If we do not even help a brother, it is not likely we would “lay down our lives the brethren.”
A man does not have to murder in order to sin; hatred is murder in his heart. But a man need not even hate his brother to be guilty of sin. All he has to do is ignore him, or be indifferent toward his needs. A believer who has material goods and can relieve his brother’s needs ought to do it. To “close the door of his heart” on his brother is a kind of murder for it is based on self-centeredness, just like the attitude of Cain!
If I am going to help my brother, I must meet three conditions. First, I must have the means necessary to meet his need. Second, I must know that the need exists. Third, I must be loving enough to want to share.
A believer who is too poor to help, or who is ignorant of his brother’s need, is not condemned. But a believer who hardens his heart against his needy brother is condemned. One reason Christians should work is so that they may be able “to give to him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28).
In these days of multiplied social agencies, it is easy for Christians to forget their obligations. “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6:10.
This “doing good” need not be in terms of money or material supplies. It may include personal service and the giving of oneself to others. There are many individuals in our churches who lack love and would welcome friendship.
If we want to experience and enjoy the love of God in our own hearts, we must love others, even to the point of sacrifice. Being indifferent to a brother’s needs means robbing ourselves of what we need even more: the love of God in our hearts. It is a matter of love or death!
Christian Love (1 John 3:18–24)
True Christian love means loving in deed and in truth. The opposite of “in deed” is “in word,” and the opposite of “in truth” is “in tongue.” Here is an example of love “in word”:
If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? – James 2:15–16.
To love “in word” means simply to talk about a need, but to love “in deed” means to do something about meeting it. You may think, because you have discussed a need, or even prayed about it, that you have done your duty, but love involves more than words—it calls for sacrificial deeds.
To love “in tongue” is the opposite of to love “in truth.” It means to love insincerely. To love “in truth” means to love a person genuinely, from the heart and not just from the tongue. People are attracted by genuine love, but repelled by the artificial variety. One reason why sinners were attracted to Jesus (Luke 15:1–2) was because they were sure He loved them sincerely.
“But doesn’t it cost a great deal for the believer to exercise this kind of love?”
Yes, it does. It cost Jesus Christ His life. But the wonderful benefits that come to you as by-products of this love more than compensate for any sacrifice you make. To be sure, you do not love others because you want to get something in return, but the Bible principle, “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38), applies to love and time spent as well as to money.
To Be Continued