Dear Student of the Word,
I depart Nairobi later today, so I thought I would send along the next Bible study installment before I leave. I am so glad I have started to study 1 John, for over the years it has been a difficult epistle for me to understand. This verse-by-verse approach has been helpful. This week I wrote on one of the days of this seven-day study:
v. 16 – Lest anyone get theoretical about what love is exactly, John explained it in terms of the love of Jesus. Jesus laid down His life for others.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. You and I are to do the same for other people, since Jesus gave us this example of supreme and divine love. Are you laying down your life for others? How can you tell? What evidence is there that you are? It is easy to say that you love, but sometimes hard to do. John helps us by explaining even more in the next verse.
v. 17 – One practical way to love is to share material possessions with others in need. As I write this, I am in western Kenya on a short-term missions trip with thirteen others. We brought over a lot of books, toys and shoes for the orphans here. While we are here, we are seeing other needs the people have, things like underwear, medicine and food. When we return home, we want to see how we can help meet those needs.
You don’t have to give to Africa to help meet needs. There are needs right where you live, even in your own church. Yet God can show you needs anywhere and it is your duty to respond with what you have. You may not think you have anything in your world to give, but that is generally not the case. Ask God to make you sensitive to the needs of those around you. Ask God to open your eyes to see what you have in your heart, basement, garage, attic, closet or checkbook that can be of use to someone else. Teach your children how to be generous. This is the one characteristic of the early church:
There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need (Acts 4:34-35).
It does no good to share what you have with someone who cannot use or does not need what you are giving. Love must meet others’ needs and not your own need to give. What practical needs are you meeting from your own possessions? Are you aware of the needs of those around you or of those someplace else in the world? What are you doing to share? If you need a place to focus your giving, please contact me and I will be glad to give you some suggestions!
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For further Bible study, my website archive contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse Bible studies from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Hebrews, James, 1&2 Peter, Hebrews and Revelation, along with the unpublished volumes of The Faith Files.