Summary: Note the reasons that the love of God motivates our hearts to action.


© 2001 Mark Beaird

Text: 1 John 3:16-18

What is your picture of someone who is truly poor?

In Hollywood there is an exclusive school attended by children of movie stars, producers, and directors. Asked to write a composition on the subject of poverty, one little girl started her literary piece: "Once there was a poor little girl. Her father was poor, her mother was poor, her governess was poor, her chauffeur was poor, her butler was poor. In fact, everybody in the house was very, very poor.

--James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 371.

How prevalent would you say that is poverty in our world?

“If the world had 1,000 people, 600 would live in a shantytown.

--Development Innovations and Networks, Geneva, reported in Chicago Tribune, 1990. "To Verify," Leadership.

500 million children don’t get enough food to fully develop mentally and physically. There are 40,000 hunger-related deaths every day. -- World Bank. Leadership, "To Verify."

And yet the amount of money Americans spend annually on pet food adds up to $300 million. -- The Loose Change Newsletter (Nov.-Dec./95). Leadership, "To Verify."

Note the proposition of verse 17. If a person, who has something to give, sees another in need and does not help that person, it is doubtful, and even appears impossible, that the person who refuses to give has the love of God living in his heart. But let’s not stop there. The other implication is that if a person does have the love of God in his heart he will help. I believe that he will help because the love of God will speak to his heart. Note the reasons that the love of God motivates our hearts to action.


A banker had just turned a man down for a loan, then made an unusual offer. He said to the man, "I have one good eye and one glass eye. If you can tell me which is which, I’ll approve your loan." The man looked for a moment, then said, "Your left eye is your good eye." The banker was surprised. "That’s right," he said. "How could you tell?" The man said, "I detected a hint of compassion in the other eye." (Streiker CD)

A. Christ set the standard for compassionate response to human need.

“This is how we know what love is….”

B. In every measure, the sacrifice of Christ was for us.

Jesus gained nothing by laying down his life for us.

C. True compassion needs no reward.


A. The need of others provokes the love of God.

Some posses the love of God although they posses virtually nothing else.

“I once heard a touching story about a poor woman with two children who had no bed for them to sleep in and scarcely any clothes to cover them. In the depth of winter they were nearly frozen, and the mother took the door of a cellar off the hinges, and set it up before the corner where they crouched to sleep, that some of the draft and cold might be kept from them. One of the children whispered to her, when she complained, "Mother, what do those dear little children do who have no cellar door to put up in front of them?" Even there, you see, the little heart found cause for thankfulness.”

--Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)

B. The absence of mercy is inconsistent with the love of God.

C. The love of God lives (dwells) in our heart to insure mercy.


A. Words are not a sufficient substitute for taking action on behalf of others.

John writes, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue…”

“A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get himself out. A Christian Scientist came along and said: "You only think that you are in a pit". A Pharisee said: "Only bad people fall into a pit." A Fundamentalist said: "You deserve your pit." A Charismatic said: "Just confess that you’re not in a pit." A Methodist came by and said, "We brought you some food and clothing while you’re in the pit." A Presbyterian said, "This was no accident, you know." An Optimist said: "Things could be worse." A pessimist said: "Things will get worse!" Jesus, seeing the man, took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.” (Streiker CD)

James asked the question, “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 2:15-16

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