Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 John 3:17
“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?” – 1 John 3:17
This verse brings out in a clear way just what true love is. The verse just prior to our focus verse shows us that love, as described here, is not an emotion but an action. I am not saying emotion is not a part, for that is very true. However, if it is only an emotion with no actions associated with it, then is it truly love? James had this to say about it, focusing on faith. “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 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?” James 2:15-16.
In our focus verse, we see a similar idea, however, it is a stronger position taken here. “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. In James, he is saying that our faith is worthless, in fact it is dead. However, in our focus verse, John’s statement is much stronger. “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. He is not just saying their faith is worthless, but that the love of God does not reside in them. This is a very strong message.
Let us look at the verse just prior to this. “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” 1 John 3:16. John is essentially saying that Jesus showed His love to us by meeting the major need we had in our lives. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. This salvation was not a possibility without the work Christ did for us. Jesus sacrificed His life for our good. He gave everything for us. He did not close His eyes, heart or mind against us. He saw our need and met it completely. This is a picture of what real love is.
So, do we have this kind of love within us? This is the idea found in this verse. He did not have to come here, but He did because of His great love for us. His death was horrible and without any legitimate reason but to meet our great need. But because of His love He endured it all. If we would not divide our bread with the hungry, then do we really have the love of Christ in us? If we would not be willing to share our water with the thirsty, then does the love of Christ truly reside in us? This is the heart of the matter. He sacrificed everything for us. Are we willing to make sacrifices for others?
In closing, John writes in verse eighteen, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18. If we only declare our love through words, and neglect showing people through our actions, then according to our focus verse, God’s love does not abide in us. We are only doing what James says, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” James 2:16b. They do not have the means to eat or stay warm, but we tell them to anyway. Does this really provide for their needs?
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.