In the last few weeks, I’ve had several good, encouraging, challenging conversations with some brothers and sisters in Christ who are seeking to follow Jesus as he leads them to give to and serve others. I’m not just talking about giving out money to people in need; I’m talking about spending time with people that God brings into their life, helping them with various life issues as well as helping them follow Jesus.
These friends have each shared examples of times when God has allowed them to greatly help other people. Sometimes, they were helping other brothers and sisters in Christ, and sometimes they were loving on and serving people who were not (yet) followers of Jesus. They were encouraged and humbled by the fact that God was using them in ways that are often surprising and unexpected.
But, occasionally, my friends also shared another concern: there are so many people who need help, and my friends do not always have the money, time, energy, resources, etc. to help them.
Now, there are many different reasons for this kind of feeling, and I don’t want to get into all of those reasons. Instead, I’m hoping that this post will be an encouragement to those who find themselves in a similar situation.
First, I want to thank for giving of yourselves in this ways. You are demonstrating the love of God, as John described here:
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 anyone 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 ESV)
When we give to others who are in need, the love of God is abiding in us, and we are loving in deed and in truth.
Second, please notice something that John wrote above, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need…”
You are not responsible for giving something that you do not have. This is very difficult for people who spend so much of their money, time, energy, and resources helping others. But, when the money, time, energy, and resources are gone – when you truly have nothing left to give – then you are not withholding the love of God when you do not give to someone.
Of course, even though I say that – and even though John makes the point clear in the passage above – it’s still difficult to accept. Why? Because we still know that people are in need and because we still want to help them.
But, remember, God loves these people much more than you do. He has more resources than you have. Do not allow anyone or anything (not even yourself) to lay guilt on you for not helping someone when you have nothing to give.
In Jesus’ name, share what he has given you in order to demonstrate the love that God has lavished on you. And, accept that if God has not given you anything to share with others, then he does not want you to share anything with them.