1999-09-16 - This World's Goods
I Jn 3:17 But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? (NAS)
There is something interesting here. There is no condemnation of the fact that the first person has the world's goods. There is also no condemnation of the fact that the second person does not have the world's goods. The condemnation comes when the first does not help the second in need. There are many humorous definitions of a philanthropist. But a person who has means and is willing to give to worthy causes from those means expecting nothing in return, is a picture of the love of Christ for us. God did not need us. He could have wiped the slate clean and started over. But He loved us enough to die in our place to open the way to eternal life with Him. He paid the way completely. If we are not willing to give from our plenty, John asks if the love of God lives in us.
There is nothing wrong with having things. When we hoard them to ourselves like the man who wanted to tear down his barns and build bigger ones and take his ease, there is a problem. Things we want to keep that badly have us, instead of us having them. When God pours out His blessings on us and we fail to find ways to bless others with a portion of that gift, the love of God is not evident in our lives.
James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (NAS)
There are people around us and around the world who do not have food even for their next meal. Some of these are our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. They may be foraging on the Mekong river in Southeast Asia, or ringing a cash register at a local store, trying desperately to make ends meet. They might be begging on the streets of Calcutta, or sitting on the end of the pew next to you. You can not always be sure.
How can we help these people? First and foremost, pray and ask God's leading. It can be as easy as having that struggling young couple over for dinner, or signing up with one of the missions to children, or donating to the missions fund at your church. There are 6 billion people on this planet and too many of then have never heard the gospel of Christ. This is starvation of the worst kind. While the average American home has 2 to 4 Bibles, believers all over the world have handwritten, carefully-kept texts from listening to short wave stations, if they have that. Many of the world's population are under fed, while we need weight off and diet programs by the score. Missions can be across the street or on the other side of the world. But missions is supported by believers praying and giving of their time, talents and giving back this world's goods that God has entrusted us with as stewards.
God loves a cheerful giver. If giving is really going to put a crimp in your situation, God knows that too. If you can not give cheerfully, with joy in your heart, I'm not sure God wants you to give. True, we should not use our emotions as a gauge of when to give, or bow to pleading manipulation. You don't have to do it all either. If you ask God honestly, he will guide you in your giving or your time, abilities and finances. But there are times when we must learn to trust God to meet our needs if He has put it on your heart to give sacrificially. If you have been blessed with extra, recognize it as a gift from God and return it to Him where He leads you.
Lord Jesus - time grows short and the days grow darker still. Many have not heard of Your salvation that paid for them too. There are many in this world who are spiritually and physically hungry. Feed one hunger and they live for a few days or years. Feed the other hunger and they will live forever. Lead us into the joy of supporting Your work with prayer and time or the things of this world that You have graciously provided to us. Thank you for the opportunity to participate and share the love we know with others. Amen.