“If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
John 14:15 (KJV)
How are you? This post is going to be a little bit different than usual. I am going to use this post to show how we may have to have a little extra compassion for those who may have trouble with reading the Bible and believing in God.
Before I go too far, I want you to know that I am not making excuses for nonbelievers or for those who don’t believe that the Bible is the Word of God. I am not trying to judge or condone anyone who may be in that situation. However, I think that we as Christians, if we realize what a nonbeliever or baby believer may be thinking or feeling, we can have extra compassion to encourage a person.
The way we act as Christians might make the difference in whether a nonbeliever or baby Christian might believe in the future. Our compassion or lack of compassion might determine how the person we meet feels towards our Lord in the future.
First, let me ask, what do you think of when you first read the words in John 14:15? I have to say that I am a seasoned Christian and one of my first thoughts were of manipulators who have told me things like, “If you love me, you would wear the outfit I like” or “If you love me, you would wear your hair the way I like” or “If you love me, you would do this for me”. Have you ever had people say things like that to you?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a seasoned Christian and know that Jesus is not trying to manipulate us by the words he spoke in John 14:15. However, for those who have had a more difficult life or aren’t a seasoned believer may not understand that Jesus’ words are not manipulative. He or she may relate the words solely on what he or she knows. And, if all he or she knows is manipulation and lack of love, then this may feel like more of the same to him or her.
So, why am I saying all this? Usually, I ponder the meaning of a verse to me. I don’t usually ponder what a verse is not. Don’t worry, I will ponder the meaning for John 14:15 next week. However, I feel called to write this post, because I think that the actions of Christians can sometimes have a strong influence on how nonbelievers or baby believers can react or believe.
Looking at Matthew 18:6 might help explain what I mean. Matthew 18:6 (KJV) says, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” I don’t think Jesus was necessarily talking about just children in Matthew 18:6. I think he was talking about any new believer. (For me, it also kind of means a nonbeliever that is kind of on the edge of believing as well.) Jesus doesn’t want us seasoned Christians to do anything that would discourage belief in him.
I believe this concept is one that is difficult for many of us to understand. Sometimes, we may discourage belief in Jesus or discourage others from wanting to be Christians without even knowing it. Sometimes, we act in a way that is ungodly and un-Christian without even thinking about it.
Now, let’s tie this into John 14:15. Imagine a nonbeliever or new believer who comes across John 14:15 and immediately thinks about all the manipulators in his or her life. Maybe some of the hurt from the manipulation and selfishness of loved ones is triggered from this verse.
Imagine that because of the hurt, he or she might say something like, “This is bogus. This isn’t God’s Word. And, if it is, He doesn’t sound very loving to me.” It might not be exactly like that, but he or she may have thoughts and feelings that we may not understand. The might seem understandable to them and they may be honest feelings to them. But, we know that their thoughts and feelings don’t reflect the true nature of God.
Our first instinct might be to be protective and defend our Lord. This may be all well and good, not that God needs our protection and defense, but often we may not do it with compassion or tact. This lack of compassion or tact is what gives nonbelievers or baby Christians the wrong image of God.
We may be called to disagree with the wrong feelings that some get from verses like John 14:15, but we are called to do it with compassion and by following Jesus’ example. We are to do it gently. Instead of getting our dander up and starting an argument over the real meaning of the verse, we may say something more understanding and compassionate like, “I can understand why you might think that. I have had people in my life try to manipulate me in that way as well. It can be a hurtful thing. However, with time, an open heart, and more experience, you will see that God is not a manipulator. He is not like the people who have said, ‘If you love me, you will do this or that.’ Give it time. Experience His love and revisit this verse later.”
There are other instances where we can be “better off drowned with a millstone around our neck”, but when I read John 14:15 I felt called to bring up how we are to be good role models and encourage others in their belief in God. It is important to stress that how we respond to nonbelievers and new believers may impact how they believe in the future. Starting an argument and speaking harshly can lead to more wrong thinking or disbelief and compassion can lead to a better understanding and a stronger belief.
What do you think? Can you think of a time when you have been in this situation either as the nonbeliever/new believer or as the seasoned Christian? What was your reaction?
Especially during disagreement, I think new believers or possible believers need to see God’s love through us. We can disagree with them and even correct their misunderstanding, but we can do it gently and compassionately, so God’s love shines through us.
Thank you for your Holy Word. Thank you for sending your beloved Son, Jesus, not only to be our Lord and Savior, but to be our ultimate role model as well. Help us to have compassion for others, especially for unbelievers on the edge of believing or new believers, so we don’t turn them off from your love and give them a wrong picture of what it means to be a Christian. Give us the strength, knowledge and courage in doing what is right when someone has a wrong picture of you and reacts badly to your Word. I ask this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Reflective questions for John 14:15 (KJV):
*What does John 14:15 mean to me?
*Have I ever had anyone say, “If you love me, you will…”?
*Have I ever been manipulated before?
*If I come across someone who has a wrong picture by the words in John
14:15, how would I react?
Thank you for staying with me this week. Next week, I will ponder what I think John 14:15 does mean instead of what I think the verse doesn’t mean. So, stay tuned.
Now, it is your turn.
I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. I know that this has been a little different, but do you know what I am trying to say? Have you been in this situation before? How have you reacted? Do you have thoughts for the rest of us on what we could do if we were in this type of situation?
Thank you for being here. I appreciate the kindness and support. I pray you are finding value in the Faith Blog by DUO Inspirations. If you are finding value, please share the Faith Blog by DUO Inspirations with friends and family. You may also want to use it as part of a family or church family discussion. Help spread God’s Word and encourage others in their faith.
If you haven’t already, please consider signing up below to get the Faith Blog by DUO Inspirations and other faith content in your inbox. Thank you.
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
1 John 3:17 (KJV)
How are you? I am touched by the words in 1 John 3:17. What about you? If we all thought about these words and prayed about these words, and acted upon these words, the world would be a better place.
As Christians, we try to do what is right. We may go to church, worship God and speak His name. We may pray not only for ourselves, but for others as well. Yet, is that all we are called to do?
We are asked a very good question in 1 John 3:17 (KJV), “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” With the “old time” words and way of saying things, this verse, like many others in the Bible, may be difficult to understand. However, it is basically saying, “If we are rich or have more than we need and see someone in need, but don’t share, how can we say that we have God’s love in us?” Or, we can also change that to, “How can we say we are Christians, followers of Jesus, and believers, if we don’t share out of our extra wealth with those in need?”
Let’s think about that question a minute. Pray about it. If we are truly following Jesus, how can we not share what we have with others? Jesus was always having compassion on others, healing them, encouraging them, and giving the good news to them. Shouldn’t we do the same, if we are able? Isn’t that what “following” means? Is that what it means to be Christian?
I think part of our issue in not heeding the words in 1 John 3:17 is that we interchange the words “need” and “want” too much in our society. We talk about “needing” things that we really “want”. We might say something like, “I need to get some chips for the picnic.” Well, that isn’t quite the truth. The truth is that we “want” to get some chips for the picnic. We might say, “I need a new car.” Well, that isn’t quite the truth either. Even if we feel we need a vehicle, the truth is closer to, “I need something to get me to and from work or the grocery store. But, I really want it to be a new car.” Our society says “need” too often when “want” is really the meaning.
With our nonchalant use of the word “need”, how can we really tell when someone needs something or not? More to the point, how can we tell if we have more than we need, if we always say we need something when we don’t? I think this badly, overused, misrepresented use of the word “need” has made us numb to the real needs of the world; of ours and of others.
I think if we learn to use the word “want” when we really mean “want” and use “need” when we really mean “need”, God will be more likely to open our hearts to have the compassion we should for others. Even if we have never had a real “need”, we may start to understand that there are people who do and our compassion will tug at us until we do something about it.
It is then that we can realize that we have a closet bulging with more clothes than we actually where, when there are others who barely have clothes on their backs and don’t even have a closet. Maybe then, we will share.
In preparing for this post and reading 1 John 3:17, it tugged at my heart some. I hope that God continues the tug at my heart. I pray that He continues to convict me with this verse, until I am moved to a depth so deep that His loves comes pouring through me. I pray the same for you as well, if you aren’t there already.
Thank you for sending your only Son, Jesus, to be our Savior and our ultimate role model. Oh, Lord, help us to know the difference between “needs” and “wants”. Touch our hearts, so they are opened to the needs of others and your compassion can flow through us. Help us to have compassion on those in need, not only in word and prayer, but also in action. I ask you this through your Son, Jesus. Amen.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Reflective questions for 1 John 3:17 (KJV):
*What does 1 John 3:17 mean to me?
*Do I use the word “need” when I really mean “want”?
*Do I think that the needs and wants confusion numbs us?
*What message is God giving me through this verse?
*What can I do to better heed the words in 1 John 3:17?
*Do I have any excess that I can give to those in need?
Now, it is your turn.
What are your thoughts? Do you use "need" when you mean "want"? Why don't you think we give as much as we can to those in need? How do you think we call ourselves Christians and don't give to those in need? (I know some do give.) I would like to hear from you. Please, comment below to give us all something about which to think and pray. Thank you.
I am so glad that you are here. I appreciate your support and kindness. I hope you are finding value in the Faith Blog by DUO Inspirations. If you are finding value, please share the Faith Blog by DUO Inspirations with your friends, family, and church. Thank you.
Also, if you haven't already done so, please consider signing up below to receive the Faith Blog by DUO Inspirations and other faith content in your inbox. Thank you.
This is Jodi. I am so glad you are here! I am a Christian and life-long learner. I enjoy sharing and encouraging others. I pray you are blessed by this blog. Thank you for being here.