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1 John 3:17: If Anyone Has the World's Goods

1 John 3:17
[17] But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? (ESV)

This verse packs a powerful punch.  As we have seen in our trip through 1 John God is concerned with the sincerity of our hearts.  It's one thing to say that we have a relationship with God, but there ought to be evidence to back it up  This verse is another challenge for us.  It will compel us to more than thoughts and feelings, but actions.

The first phrase of our verse is interesting.  "If anyone has the world's goods."  The sad reality is that what usually happens is the "world's goods have us, instead of us having the world's goods."  So, the first thing we need to realize is that we are not to be owned by material things.  We are to be stewards of what God has allowed us to have. 

Let's look at the next phrase, "Sees his brother in need." My physical eyesight is very bad.  If I did not have contacts I would be in very bad shape.  But, there are those who are in even worse shape when it comes to seeing the needs of others.  So often we are surrounded by "brothers in need." Yet, we close our eyes to their need.  We live in a society that is so self-centered that we only look at those things that benefit us.  The Lord has a different focus for us.  We are to "see" those in need.

John continues with, "Yet closes his heart against him." This is such a devastating indictment against a person who would claim to know God.  They have heard of the love of God for themselves, but when they see someone who needs material help they intentionally refuse to give what is in their power to give.  God is loving.  God is giving.  This behavior of intentionally refusing to give shows that God's character is not found in the individual John is describing.

The last phrase is sobering. "How does God's love abide in him?" Here is the reality.  If God is living in you, you will demonstrate his love through you.  If there is no evidence of his love in your actions, the likelihood is that God's love is not in you at all!  You may even say, "Yes, but I gave money to this or that charity.  I helped this person out." Did you do so with love?  You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

What has God given you?  Be a good steward.  Do not allow the world's possessions to have you.  Give to those in need. Love as Christ loves.