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?1 John 3:17
The apostle John uses some interesting phrasing in this verse. He describes ignoring the needs of a brother as a closing of the heart. He then asks rhetorically, if someone’s heart is closed, how can the love of God be in them?
The love that God has shown to us as believers is not a closed-loop system. It’s not as if we receive everything we need or want from God and then call it good and ignore everyone else.
I once heard an illustration of the water features of Israel as being representative of this principle. The Jordan river flows with fresh water from the mountains into the Sea of Galilee. There, the water teems with fish and all sorts of living creatures. Historically fisherman have worked their boats and nets and the Sea has provided its bounty for the surrounding communities.
The Sea of Galilee has fresh water because the besides being fed by the Jordan, it also empties on its southern edge to continue the Jordan river on its way. The water continually flows through the Sea as the river heads on its course.
However, as it enters the Dead Sea, the water has no outlet. The incoming fresh water merely stockpiles in the lowest regions of the area, where evaporation produces a lifeless stew of salt and brine that does not support any fish population.
This illustration shows that without an outlet, the water becomes stagnant and lifeless. In a similar way, if we merely receive the blessings and abundance God has provided us and do not share that bounty with others, our lives can become lifeless and unproductive, as well.
John drives home his admonition with the following statement:
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.1 John 3:18
We should not just say we have compassion for others, we should demonstrate it with real actions based on the truth of God’s Word.
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