Because We Love

by Scarlett Stough

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: With Actions and in Truth.

How do we know we have "passed from death to life?" (1 John 3:14). Love is the test, but what are the characteristics of the love which is evidence of eternal life?

We are given a list in 1 Corinthians 13, but we often fail to understand how to be kind and good. Not every "kindness" leads to a good result. God has given us some guidelines so our desire to be good to others does not lead to actions which hurt rather than help.

"Actions speak louder than words" is a saying with truth in it. But just like words can either help or hurt so can actions. No matter how well-intentioned our actions are we must think about the potential consequences of those actions.

John (1 John 3:17) reminds us to share with people in genuine need. Paul warns us we should refuse to support able bodied people who are mooching off other people instead of supporting themselves (2 Thessalonians 3:10-15). He is talking about intentional laziness, not circumstances beyond a person's control.

Other guidelines include willingly giving as we are able, giving out of what we have, not what we don't have (2 Corinthians 8:1-15).

We have a responsibility to determine what is our own burden to bear alone while choosing whether or not it is appropriate to help carry another's burden (Galatians 6:1-5). The Way of Love requires wisdom as well as compassion.

God in his wisdom gives us all we need, as we need it, for our good to fulfill his purpose of creating us in his image. He intends for us to depend on him for salvation along with "working out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12-13)." We are also to help one another (James 5:19-20). We are not helping anyone if we fail to call evil, evil. We are not doing good if we "help" others avoid their own responsibility before God and society (1 Corinthians 5:9-13).

There are consequences to any choice we make. We are not obligated to keep another from experiencing those consequences out of a misguided attempt to "love" (Galatians 6:7-10). If we keep rescuing people from the consequences of bad choices, they are being deprived of the realization of their need for repentance which will lead to choices with much better results.

Editor's Note: Please see the book review in this issue: Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend which covers in a more complete way this subject of when and when not to help others.

Volume 17 Issue 07 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review |

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