“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.
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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.
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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.