Daily Devotional – 1 John 3:17 – December 15, 2023

“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?”
1 John 3:17

I once read an internet thread in which someone posed a question for others to discuss. They asked (paraphrasing), “Imagine the government placed a bounty for your life of $5 million, and everyone in the world knew about it. The catch is, it only lasts two days, and if you survive until it passes, you get the $5 million yourself.” It was really a question intended to spark conversation about how you’d survive a hypothetical life and death situation. The result was a poignant observation about our world today. One of the top comments was (paraphrasing), “I’d put on my rattiest clothes, and my most scuffed up boots, and go sit on a street corner in Manhattan. Being a homeless person is the quickest way to become invisible in America.”

I think that person is right. Especially for those of us who live is big cities where homelessness is more common, we learn to tune them out, to ignore them. Many people, even many Christians, will even go so far as to rationalize why they don’t deserve our charity – they don’t deserve it with the choices they’ve made, they’ll probably use it on drugs, they should get a job, etc.

I wonder if those people have heard this verse from 1 John 3:17. John asks the rhetorical question, “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?”

The obvious answer is that they clearly don’t.

Does that strike a chord with you? It does for me. I live in a pretty big city, and I see homeless people out on the street very frequently. I try to help often, but I also find myself avoiding eye contact and trying to ignore them when I don’t feel like I have the time or money to help. The irony is that I do this while sitting in a car that costs thousands of dollars, with a wallet in my pocket, money in my bank accounts, food in my pantry, and a heated/air conditioned house to go home to.

Notice that John doesn’t say, “money,” he says “material possessions.” I definitely meet that requirement. Chances are you do too.

We are called to take action, not to ignore. We are called to see, not tune out. We are called to take pity on those who are in need when the rest of the world won’t. We aren’t called to judge their qualification or determine their worthiness of our help. We’re simply called to love, to serve, and to help how we can. It’s that simple. There are no t’s to cross or i’s to dot. There are no boxes to check or qualificaitions to meet. It is simply the nature of a person filled with the love of God to give, to serve, and to love out of the overflow of what God has given them, how he has served them, and how he loves them.


Help us not to ignore those in need, but to see them, to recognize them as your own children, and to help them however we can. Help us not to be callous to them, but take pity and then take action.
In Jesus’ Name,

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