Let us… love… in deed and truth. 1 John 3:18
Today we will revisit the thought we talked about a couple of weeks ago – the idea that when helping people, just saying something is not enough. In fact, it isn’t very helpful at all, as our words cannot feed someone or cloth them. Our love must be expressed through deed (that is practically helping someone) together with the truth (the Gospel must be in partnership with everything we do).
Preceding verse 18, John challenges us about helping people with the things we possess. He said “…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. We should know by now that it doesn’t matter who we are or what we believe our calling to be, everyone who says they are a follower of Jesus is commissioned to be helping people.
Closing our heart and our eyes from the need around us is not what God would do and we shouldn’t do it either. Showing people you care through helping them is a display of God’s love using the things we have been blessed with. Our possessions can be a help to someone or a barrier we use to hide behind. It’s a tough decision, as we learnt about the rich young man, who couldn’t do it. Instead he made his world goods to be more important to him than following Jesus and inheriting eternal life. Be careful not to make the same mistake.
Jesus knew how hard helping people was and spent a lot of time talking about the poor and how we can help them. The other side to not helping people, is helping with the wrong motive that will potentially hurt them one day.
In Matthew 6 Jesus spent time teaching on a number of different things for our Christian walk. He starts with what our motivation should be when giving to the poor. Helping people this way is not about parading and ensuring people see what we do. It can’t be about us (the giver) and doing this for the reason “it makes me feel good”.
One of the difficult phrases Jesus mentions is the statement, “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” Matthew 6:3. This is probably a current proverb and in the context of giving to the poor, it implies a secrecy about the deeds of kindness rather than acting to impress others.
This was not an unknown practice, for the Jews had what was called “the Chamber of the Silent” for those who for some reason wanted to be completely anonymous in their giving. In reading this proverb it is worth noting that it is our own left hand that is not to know what our own right hand is doing and not the hand of the poor.
The expression may simply mean that we are to avoid all scheming or planning for our own advantage in getting the attention from others. Our giving should not come with a “strings attached” motive. When helping people and giving to the poor it should be done in complete trust when the gift is in the spirit of love. Our motive when helping people is for the good in this experience, rather than for personal benefits resulting from our giving to help them.
Let’s approach helping people with the incentive that people in our communities and around the world need us and the blessings we have been given to help them. The reward we get from doing this is simply the benefit of living in and knowing the love of God. What He has done for us, we can now pass on to someone else.
“Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.” Luke 14:23
When you speak to God today use the time to humble yourself and do a motivation check. We want to make sure that everything we do with helping people is done to please God and not based on how we feel.
Our motives can be seen through what we don’t do and what we do. To avoid helping people is just as selfish as helping people for personal benefits and results. It’s a learning curve for most of us to change and live in a way that pleases God. To have God’s love living in us compels us to go and help people who are in need.
What do you need to change in your life that will make God’s love you have, be seen to those people who need help?
The sensation that makes us ‘feel good’ cannot be what motivates us to help people. Recognise the need and prayerfully help so that people will experience God’s love and know Him. Many people have been hurt because of a ‘results driven’ approach and the satisfaction that leads to personal benefits.
Our response to helping people must be more about the Kingdom of God than it is about us and what we can get out of it. There are people who genuinely need our help, are we prepared to do this when it takes our time, our world’s goods and the love God has given to us?
You can make a difference through helping people.