March 25, 2024

What Is Our Default?

Devotion for the week...

One day last week, I read 1 John 3:17, which says, "If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?" There's so much to think about in that one sentence!

John creates a kind of hypothetical person for us to imagine. John doesn't say this person is wealthy, but that they have enough money to live well. I take that to mean a person who isn't just barely scraping by; it's someone who can pay the bills and put food on the table. They may not have enough to go on fancy vacations, or be always shopping for new clothes, but they have the resources to meet their needs. By that definition, most of us likely have enough money to live well. Is that how we feel about our financial situation?

Then this person sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion. There might be a lot of reasons why one person might not reach out to help another. Maybe they don't feel like they have enough to be able to share (entirely possible if they're only just paying their own bills), maybe they don't feel the other person is deserving (why aren't they working?), or maybe they're focused on trying to reach some goal of their own and giving to someone else would set them back (saving for a big purchase, for example). Whatever the reason, John's hypothetical person sees the need, but chooses not to help meet that need.

If you're like me, you've seen needs you didn't try to meet because of those reasons I mentioned and more. Sometimes we end up feeling like we can't possibly meet all the needs around us, so we block them out. 

Then John asks a question - how can God's love be in that person? Ouch! That really packs a punch, doesn't it?

John follows his question with an exhortation: "Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions" (v. 18).
Is our default position one of reaching out to help others |
I don't think John was saying that not meeting every need around us means that God's love isn't in us. I think he was trying to prompt us to think about how we live, and how we see the needs of others. Is our default position one of reaching out to help others, or one of hoarding and saving for ourselves? And if we don't reach out to help by default, how could we change that, to make our actions reflect the love of God?

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