By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if any one 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? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18
Last night we held our last small group meeting for the summer. We finished up the seven churches of Revelation and I always dread the last church, Laodicea, because it always hits me as a commentary on the “American Way.” For those who are unfamiliar with the letter to Laodicea let me take a few minutes to explain what was happening. Laodicea was a very rich city. This was the banking center for Asia Minor during the 1st century. Business was good in Laodicea. The church in Laodicea was so prosperous that they did not need Christ anymore. They even turned down help from Rome when an earthquake destroyed the city. The prosperity of Laodicea caused the church to put Jesus on the back burner. So much so that Jesus threatened to spit them out of his mouth. Fast forward to today and you have to wonder how much of a place do we give Christ in our lives here in the United States. We are a very wealthy nation. Our poorest poor are rich compared to the poorest poor in the world. We are also a very self-sufficient society, hence we are very self-sufficient people. Even in the church we run the risk of relying too much on our own abilities and not trusting in Christ for all our needs. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi that they should rely on Christ, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We need to rely more on Christ for “our daily bread” and less on ourselves.
That being said, we also have to understand that all blessings come from God. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” God has blessed us greatly in this country. Why? Why has God blessed us with riches and comforts beyond our imagination? John answers this question, “if any one 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?” God has blessed us so that we can bless others. We are stewards of what God has given us, but many of us believe that we own everything we have accumulated, and we have accumulated a lot. Or even worse, many are pursuing riches to the detriment of their faith and their sanity. Paul wrote Timothy that, ” But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
If we say that we are believers and love Christ, yet turn a blind eye to those around us who are truly in need, God’s love cannot be in us. In other words, we love ourselves more than we love God. We can’t live this way anymore. We need to repent of our selfishness towards God and ask him daily what he wants us to do with all of our resources, both physical and spiritual. Our addiction to stuff will be hard to break. It won’t be easy and may take a while, but we need to do it.
God, please forgive me for being selfish with the blessings You have given me. Help me Father to use Your resources that I am entrusted with to further Your kingdom and help those who are truly in need. Help me to see with Your eyes, and love with Your heart. – Amen