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How can the love of God be in us?
September 21, 2009
by Rev. Paul Marggraf, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Delano

The Apostle John writes in 1 John 3:17, “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?”

On the face of it, those words from John are so simple. The obvious answer to John’s question is that the love of God cannot be in a person who shows no pity.

When you know that you have received mercy from God, it’s hard to be heartless. When you know just how much mercy you get from God each day, it ought to be really tough to act like Scrooge. And with all the financial hardships that have plagued our nation lately, we certainly haven’t been short on opportunities to show mercy to others.

Still, there is something disturbing about the question that John asks: “How can the love of God be in us?” Even though we’ve practiced our share of charity, we’ll also have to admit that there have been days when we have seen people in need and have just kept walking.

Deep down in the gut of conscience, we know that if the world had to depend on us for charity, a bunch of people would go begging. And it’s going to happen again – it’s a fact, and we know it. So really, “How can the love of God be in us?”

Given our spotty record on acts of charity, there would be plenty of room to wonder where our hearts are at – if not for the fact that God is in the habit of doing miracles! And that’s what faith is.

Faith is always a miracle. The Bible says, “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts.” (2 Corinthians 4:6). It’s a miracle that God brought light into darkness when he created the world, and it’s a miracle that he can preserve faith in the hearts of people like us who can be so on-again/off-again when it comes to helping our neighbor.

But that’s just what God does. He preserves faith. It’s His habit. And the best news is that our Lord’s habits are far more consistent than ours.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.