All too often, I see young people live life with blinders to the world. Their worldview is seen through a pin hole, overlooking the issues of someone their age on the other side of the world. It is in this blindness where difficulties and problems in their world would be labeled as luxuries in many parts of the world. For every teenager that scoffs at doing the dishes, there is another young person that misses another meal. For the child that is angry at their parent for not allowing them more time playing video games, there is a child that never had the chance to call someone mommy or daddy. And for every young person that divulges in sexual promiscuity, there are young people who have little choice and are forced into the act on a daily basis.
Let’s be honest. Adults fall into this category as well. We take for granted every day our freedom, our luxuries of appliances, devices, abundance of food, and overall safety. Little is done on a consistent basis for the poor, the neglected, and the needy. We too fall into the trap of complaining about our weak cell phone signals, the difficulty of choosing an outfit not as a result of too little clothes, but because the abundance in our closest, or finding just the right meal on a ten page menu.
So when I read passages like 1 John 3:16-18, it feels like a punch in the gut. The realization of my apathy towards the needy makes me ill. As I type this on my laptop, sitting in my leather chair, and with a comfortable setting on the thermostat (oh don’t worry, if it gets a little chilly, I have a space heater for extra comfort). Not saying these things of themselves are evil, because God’s Word says the LOVE of money is the problem, not money. But, as it says in 1 John 3, the issue is not what we have that is typically the problem; the real issue is the neglect of what others do not have. Take a look at what John says in this passage…
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
If I asked you, do you love others? You probably would say yes. If I asked you if you have Christ’s love for others, would you be able to answer so easily? Not when it is defined like this: one that would be willing to give his life for His brothers & sisters. Goodness, we can barely give $5 in a missionary love offering or a Saturday night to work at the homeless shelter…maybe we should start small and work our way up!
Let’s keep reading…
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?
Remember our earlier discussion about a small worldview. Imagine that, this is not a new problem. John highlights how our problems & struggles are right in front of our face, and we rarely look around those troubles to see what others are going through.
Let me explain it this way. You know what magicians try to do with their audience? They usually try to get the audience to focus on one hand, while the other is hiding something…And that’s Satan’s goal to when it comes to the needy, the poor, and the sick in the world. We often focus on other things…it might not even be sinful or evil…but we get distracted and neglect those that may need help.
Listen, 80% of people live on less than $10 a day. 22,000 children die of poverty every day. 1.1 billion people in the world don’t have access to clean water….I could keep giving you statistics, but your reaction would probably be the same. Either you care or you don’t. I’m not naïve; some of you will leave this article with no change in your heart for the poor, the sick, and the needy. But I hope there will be some that will be changed. My hope is you will find real, tangible ways to change these stats. That you will start an event that helps children with AIDS, or start a charity that provides clean water to poor countries. You can do these things; there are little kids in the news that are able to accomplish these things. Maybe you start small and support a child through Compassion International or Holt International. Maybe you do have a limited income, so start small and contribute to a missionary monthly of $2 a month. Here’s the point…DO SOMETHING!
18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Do you believe you can change the world? Do you believe you CAN make a difference? I hope so. Here’s the worst thing you can do – NOTHING! You wait for someone else to do it…you hope George Clooney or Bill Gates will take care of poverty in Africa. You think you have to wait until you are older. Listen, all these are excuses or lies from the enemy to prevent you from making a difference.
God wants more from us than just love in our words…He wants action. My challenge during to you is to find something that YOU can do. Whether it is planning a community event for clean water or raising money to rescue girls from sex slavery…I hope you will listen to whatever God is placing on your heart. Don’t underestimate what you can do to help others.
The worst thing you can do is nothing. Do something. Less words and more action.