I John 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
17 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?
The argument for faithfulness related to the saints is not about the saints. It is about Jesus Christ. He is our example. He left heaven’s glory. He is the second Person of the Godhead. He is the Creator of the world. He set aside His glory to come and take upon Himself the form of a servant obedient unto death. When a Christian looks in the mirror, what did he give up? The Bible declares:
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Those who are saved have nothing to boast of and they have nothing to complain about. Everything the true child of God has is a gift from God.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Those who are saved can look at the gift of salvation that God provides, and we can see the love of God at work. It is real and it is unlike the “love” of man. Because Jesus Christ was willing to lay down His life for us, we (those who are saved) should realistically see that we need to lay down our lives for the brethren. We should be willing to help other brethren to grow and become more Christlike. We do not throw out the truth in order to do that. We take the Word of God as our directive:
Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
God is well able to lead His children to unite with other true children. When God does that, the children need to exercise that love of God in their attitude toward those whom God brings together. There will be a need for rebuke, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. There will be the need to teach sound doctrine and to hold to sound doctrine. The Word of God is not negotiable. It is the righteous standard by which all decisions must be made.
In verse 17 we see how this love is expressed in tangible ways. I had a conversation with a professing Christian not long ago about the religious climate of our time. I stated that the time is moving to where Christians are going to need to be much more like the first century New Testament Christians. We need to be independent in that we choose to follow God and God alone. We need to be more dependent in seeking to help one another to survive and to serve God in the midst of an increasingly challenging time. Some may not see the need for this, but this is where we are at. The world is becoming more hostile toward the truth all the time. The latest vehicle they seem to be using is the sodomite agenda. There is such a push to silence anyone who would state the truth. Even lost people who oppose the sodomite agenda are being attacked. There needs to be a continual clear voice on all matters of truth. We cannot ride our particular hobby horse. We need to continue to teach the whole counsel of God.
In verse 17 God asks a very relevant question. If we see a brother in need and we have the means to help that brother, but we refuse to do so, how does that show the love of God. When we stop and consider the fact that Jesus Christ left Heaven’s glory to lay down His life for the sheep, how can we who have been blessed with God’s gift of eternal life, withhold the material blessings that He gives us from a brother in need? God says this cannot be. The time of personal pleasure and gratification needs to be greatly forsaken so that we can help those who have genuine needs. We have missed out on blessings because we have come quite a ways from the New Testament teaching on brotherly love. We are not talking of condoning laziness or carelessness. We are talking of the importance of working as a family for those who are truly born again.
As we have noted before, every generation or born again Christians should be building upon the sure Word of God, not on the traditions of the past generation. When God’s Word is not THE foundation upon which we build, then we drift off course. It is important to read and study God’s Word and be willing to allow God to plant us firmly upon His truth. The world will be shocked as the first century world was, when they can see God’s mighty hand at work in the daily lives of His people.