“If you have stuff,” John says.
He’s talking about what it means to lay down our lives for other people. Not in the sense of being a doormat, but in the sense of following the example of Jesus.
“If you have stuff.” John says. He’s not saying “lots of stuff” or “extra stuff”, he’s saying “If you look in your cupboard and the cupboard isn’t bare.” He’s saying, “If you look in your closet and it isn’t empty.” He’s saying “If you look in your bank account and you have one.”
“If you have stuff and you see a brother or sister who is in need.”
Not every story you are told, necessarily. Not every shared facebook status or direct mail appeal. Not every well-crafted emotional appeal, designed to make you click.
But as you are living your life and others are living theirs and you see someone, you notice, you are brought up short. The actual person and the actual need are in front of you.
“If you have stuff and you see a brother or sister who is in need and you have no pity.”
John’s trying to point out what it looks like to lay down our lives. Pity is a bare minimum. But it’s a something. It’s an actual meal, an actual shirt, an actual mortgage payment. It’s the opportunity to take what God put in our hands and share it with someone else.
“If you have stuff and you see a brother or sister who is in need and you have no pity, God’s love isn’t in you.”
It’s a brutal measure. And it can get twisted into legalism. Into shaming. Into spiritually-based emotional blackmail.
But that’s not what John was intending, regardless of how people misappropriate his words.
If each time you see a person with a need you can meet, and you never do anything, ask God for love. And then do something for that person.