“16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”
1 John 3:16-18
Christ is our example in all things. That is a statement that few in the Christian faith would argue with. It is easy to believe that in a nebulous, theoretical way. The challenge comes in when we actually apply that theory to life.
The passage above begins by saying that Jesus laid down His life for us. Jesus laid down His life how? He literally laid down His life in service to us and obedience to His Father even to the point death. The passage then takes a difficult turn by saying we ought to lay down our lives to the brethren in the same way.
Think about what that is saying! We, as Christians, should be willing to serve one another to the point of death! That sounds extreme and definitely gets the cross off our necklaces and onto our hearts. The reality, however, is that few of us will be called to die for others. We will, however, repeatedly, relentlessly be called to die to ourselves in order to serve others.
One of the biggest battlefields in the war between our old self and our being a new creation in Christ is money and possessions. Over and over in God’s word we are instructed to love one another. The passage above cuts to the chase-Don’t let your love be lip service; let it be heart service. To bear down on that issue a bit further, the passage goes on to say that if we have the world’s goods (and if you live in America we do more so than at least 90% of everyone else in the world), see a brother in need, and close our heart against them then we are not being loving. We are not serving as Christ did. We are, frankly, not Christian.
This does not mean being an “easy target” or being scammed. It does, however, mean that being Christian means being Christ-like, and if we close our hearts we are being anything but Christ-like. Can you imagine if Jesus had closed His heart to us? We must open our hearts (and sometimes our wallets, tables, and homes) to those in need if we want to be a growing disciple of Christ.
This week let’s make it a point to look for those in need around us.
I promise you, if you ask Christ to reveal the needs of those around you to you and then open your heart and eyes you will be astounded if not overwhelmed. Then ask Christ to begin to guide you into how He would have you begin to open your heart to meet those needs in the life of another in Christ’s name. To open our hearts and serve others with all we have is to be like Christ, and isn’t that after all it means to be a Christian? Amen.