"Whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" 1 John 3:17
"The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." 1 John 4:8
"...the one who loves God should love his brother also." 1 John 4:21b
As the above passages imply, when your heart conveys an attitude of indifference toward the plight of your brothers and sisters in Christ, not offering to help them in their time of need, not giving of your abundance to help with their poverty, not reaching out to them because they are not part of your clique (inner circle of friends), then perhaps you might want to examine yourself to see if you are truly a Christian, because your claim to love God is contradicted by the lack of love you show for and toward your brothers and sisters in Christ.
"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin." James 4:17Indifference is apathy. Apathy is the opposite of love. If you do not care one way or another about the plight of your brothers and sisters in Christ, and will not lift a finger to help them, you are in direct contradiction to what the Bible says about loving your brother and neighbour.
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it." Proverbs 3:27
"Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth." 1 John 3:18
"If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." 1 John 4:20Apathy is akin to hatred. When a brother or sister in Christ makes known their plight and you offer to do nothing, when it is well within your hands to do so, it is the same as hatred toward them. Your claim to love God is null and void because you clearly do not love the brethren. Whether or not they are part of your inner circle of friends is irrelevant; whether or not you know them well or intimately is irrelevant. The Bible does not condition our love of the brethren upon whether or not they are our closest friends or how well we are familiar with them. The Bible makes it clear, "Whoever...beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" "...the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked."
"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death." 1 John 3:14Is any part of the above verses unclear? He who does not love his brother is in darkness and abides in death. Truly loving the brethren involves sacrifice. If a brother or sister is without work and struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, you who are better off are responsible for helping them. To look at your money as if it is your money and refuse to help because you "earned it" yourself, your money will be your condemnation because you proudly refused to love your brethren as you were commanded to do. The money you have was given to you by God. "Freely you have received; freely give."
"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." 1 John 3:16
It is utterly amazing how when we read the Bible we see the church selling everything they owned and everyone having everything in common. Yet us proud North Americans will go to hell on a greased pole because of our great pride in our possessions. Our attitude is, "I worked hard to earn this, why should I share it with someone else, regardless of their plight?" If that person is family and/or part of our inner circle of friends, we might consider giving up a little in order to help them, but how is that biblical? How is that being a Christian? How is that showing love for the brethren? That is no different than the condemnation pronounced upon the Pharisees, for your family and inner circle of friends would willingly do the same in return for you. So what have you gained? Where is your sacrifice? How have you lain your life down for the brethren?
"...he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." Romans 13:8Loving your neighbour as yourself. The same way you would look after yourself, prove your love for God and your love for the brethren by looking after your brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way when they are struggling. "Whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?" You may profess to be a Christian, but not offering to help them in their time of need, not giving of your abundance to help with their poverty, not reaching out to them because they are not part of your clique, contradicts that profession. "...the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen." Paul makes his statement even more clear:
"For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'" Galatians 5:14
"If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,' you are doing well." James 2:8
"Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2Bear one another's burdens! Meaning, when your brother or sister in Christ is suddenly without work and struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table, you who are well off should lift a finger and help them out. Pay off some of their bills for them. Take them to a grocery store and buy them some food. Lay your life down for them by sacrificing yourself. This may even include what you cannot afford but are still able to do. Remember the widow and her mite?
Not every situation will be about money, but money is the biggest issue and the one where most people suffer from pride. They have an anti-Christ attitude concerning their money. They worked hard to earn it and do not want to give any part of it up to help anyone else struggling. If it were up to them, they would not even tithe because of how hard they had to work to earn it. Remember, "God loves a cheerful giver." I find it interesting, and extremely sad, how those with very little are willing to share it with others, but those who have been blessed with abundance are unwilling to share it at all. A good friend of mine, apart from a couple hours of work one or two days a week, is stuck living off Welfare because he cannot obtain other work. When he goes out for coffee, or whatever, with friends inside or outside of the church, he frequently offers to pay. Those friends of his who are extremely better off than he is never offer to pay. While it gives him joy to do this, at the same time he is disheartened when he is less than able to pay, and they are aware of it, and yet they do not offer to pay for him in return.
Years ago, when I was recovering from my hernia surgery, I walked to a nearby church that, unbeknownst to myself, was practically cult-like in its beliefs and practices. Having just been there that first Sunday, learning of my situation, the members of this church showed more love toward me than any other church I have ever belonged to. I was not in any of their circles of friends; none of them knew me well or intimately; and yet they prepared and brought over meals for me, even though I never asked them to and was more than capable of preparing my own food (and had the food in my apartment to do so). I know firsthand the indifference, apathy, and lovelessness that exists within the church because I have faced it during my hardships and trials. I am genuinely thankful for what little help that was extended, but that does not excuse the vast indifference and lovelessness that exists within the whole of the church. Since 2008, I have struggled with trying to obtain full-time work, and yet despite the little I earn I am more than willing to take others out to eat and give what little I can afford to help others I learn of who are in need. Likewise, when I traveled to Peru, I saw more love in the churches down there than I have ever witnessed in any church that I have been to here in North America. They do not have much to begin with, and yet they give it away to others in need willingly. It is not unheard of for them to help a brother or sister from a nearby country who is struggling, either. They will get together and prepare food or make items or whatever in order to help these families. I have never seen such Christian love in my entire life, sad to say. It is these kinds of people that inspire me and encourage me.
A person who gives only to receive will have his/her reward in hell. If you give only because you will receive something in return, like a tax receipt, then you are not giving sacrificially; you are not laying your life down for the brethren. Your pride and your money will be your condemnation. God help the church that will not lift a finger to help its struggling members, or struggling brothers and sisters around them. The church is not limited to your building or your denomination. Remember the good Samaritan? That is what a Christian is supposed to be like!
"And now I ask you, lady, not as writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it." 2 John 1:5-6