Do not withold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:17-18
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
It took some time, but I finally tracked down a quote about love that haunts me. It doesn’t frighten me, per se, it just lingers. It causes me to think and act differently. On the flip side, its truth feels overwhelming at times, and honestly, I’d rather pretend I never heard it. So, before I pass along the mystery quote, you need to know I warned you. And we need to dig around in today’s passages because when it comes to showing love, everyone is not someone.
Solomon, John, and Paul each say something significant on God’s behalf about lovingly caring for people in need. These verses aren’t reminders. We’re commanded to love others actively, honorably, empathetically, verbally, tangibly, generously, and personally. Should I go on?
These verses (and so many more like them!) are easy to read. But we can list all the adjectives of how we ought to love people on God’s behalf and still do nothing different today, tomorrow, or ever. I’m guilty of this, and while I don’t know you, I bet it’s true for you too. If truly loving people—real people with names and stories and imperfections—was like breathing, we wouldn’t need to be told over and over to do it.
Wading through God’s commands to love is convicting, but I find that hearing it from another human is powerful too. Are you ready for the quote I dug up?
“Loving anybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular.” Greville P. Lewis, The Johannine Epistles (1961).
Ouch! Do you wish you hadn’t read that just now? I didn’t even like typing it. You see, this quote nails the heart of today’s verses. Why? Because everyone is not someone. And it’s not worth splitting hairs on a technicality until after you and I get in gear and go love [insert name of someone in need].
Trust me, I’m familiar with the angles, caveats, and rationalizations to unhook myself from my responsibility to love, do good, and take care of specific people. Just having a bumper sticker that says “Love Everyone” is no guarantee that we’ll pull over to fix a flat tire, visit an aging parent, drop off food to a single mom, forgive a co-worker, or any of the other specific ways that come across our paths.
Today, our call to action is simple: Love someone in need, not just everyone. Are you in?
- Whose name comes to mind when you think about someone in need, and how will you step in to help them today?
- If no one comes to mind, go for a walk or a drive. Ask God to lead you to someone with a practical need and serve them in a tangible way.