Article written by Pastor Tan Kok Beng

19 February, 2023


(Christian Living 12)

In the early days of the Church, due to persecution there was much suffering among God’s people. Besides being threatened with imprisonment and death, there was also suffering in terms of poverty. That was because they could not find jobs and do business because of discrimination and persecution of Christians. Hence there were many poor among the believers. The Apostles John and James wrote to fellow-believers to help these poor by showing love and compassion. Love in action is the proof of true faith.

1 John 3:17-18:
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”.

James 2:14-17:
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 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? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”. Do we have the kind of real faith that translates into action?

These verses are most challenging and they are a rebuke to many of us. We have so much and often use our wealth for luxuries but have no heart of compassion for our own brothers and sisters in Christ who are hungry and suffering with starvation. We are supposed to have a “new heart and a new spirit” because we repented and have been transformed. ”If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone and the new has come” (2 Cor.5:17). It is expected then that our “selfish hearts” be turned into hearts of love and compassion.

When the people who had supposedly repented of their sins and came to be baptized, they asked John the Baptist what they should do to show that they had changed. John said to them, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11-NIV). This is practical Christianity and proof that our selfish hearts have been “converted” by the Holy Spirit living in us. He is the Spirit of love!

When God blessed His people with freedom from Egyptian slavery, He commanded them: “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. (Deut.15:7-8). “Lending” to the poor brother is like giving him a gift. The Lord Jesus said that when we lend, we should not expect to be returned (Luke 6:35). That is love giving a helping hand to a brother in need. In the ministries of our missionaries there are many poor. Let us have compassion on them!

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