John continues to share the prime commandment; love one another just as Jesus has loved us. But “love” is not just a word. It is actions behind those words.
I LOVE how the Holy Spirit lays the groundwork for our time together! I’ve read this letter from John before but I didn’t know what was on the agenda next when I was writing yesterday. My comment about the people on the street corners and in the parking lots asking for money goes right along with today’s message. Don’t love in word only but in deed also.
“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” (verses 17-18). So who is “my brother?” I would say this definitely applies to our brothers and sisters in Christ. But I believe it applies even beyond that special group. Jesus didn’t stop at the boundaries of His followers when sharing His love. He reached out to ALL people, even those across history. His love knows no bounds or boundary lines.
When asked “Who is my neighbor” Jesus shared the parable about the Good Samaritan. He wasn’t “physically” a neighbor to this Jewish man. They weren’t even acquaintances. In fact, in his listener’s expectations, they were enemies. Samaritans and Jews were NOT friends or friendly towards one another. Yet the Samaritan man was the only one to render aid to the Jewish man in distress. He didn’t have to by any law, nor did he have an expectation of being repaid for his deeds. He simply saw a real need and met it as best as he could. I wonder if he was aware of the “others” who had passed by “on the other side of the road.”
So what happened to the man who was helped by our Samaritan? Once he recovered enough to understand what had happened and who had saved him did his attitude change? When the Samaritan returned the next time, did the Jewish man feel “dirty” receiving his kindness, or was he grateful instead? Did the Jewish man know his own countrymen, brothers, stepped away from him and left him to die? Who now did he consider to be his brother?
I mentioned yesterday that I wondered how many times I might have missed God telling me to act because He did so quietly. John answers that question for me. “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (verse 20). If my heart says to act, I NEED to act. Period. Because God’s Spirit lives within me He acts upon my heart. If my heart hurts for someone it is because His is hurting for them too. And since I am His hands and feet, I need to act like them. Do what my heart tells me to do. I don’t need to wait for His “booming voice” to know that His heart goes out to someone too.
Imagine the impact the Samaritan had on that one Jewish man’s view of Samaritan’s in general. Imagine the impact we can have on those we reach out to when we share where the motivation comes from. From one “brother” or “neighbor” to another. Reach out in love. You never know the difference one stretched out hand can make.
This message is not intended to make you reach out to everyone holding a sign or asking for money. Instead it is intended to encourage you to look up at those around you and see where God would have you stretch your hand out to your “brother” or “neighbor.” My lesson just happens to deal with those I come across in my daily life, limited as it is.
Father God, forgive me for turning my back on so many of my “brothers and sisters” and “neighbors” over the years. I know I can’t help everyone but when my heart speaks I need to listen. I need to recognize it is Your Spirit talking and not just keep on walking. I need to give how I can and let you worry about the rest. Maybe buy some extra sandwich foods while I’m shopping so I can give that as a gift from You. Thank You for that idea. I WILL act on it! Remind me to do so too Lord when I’m in the store. Maybe even a bag of dog food for those four legged companions of those in need. Thank You Lord for touching my heart and giving me practical ideas to show Your love. I now look forward to being able to bless someone in Your name!