Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)

IN HIS FAMOUS WORK The Confessions, Augustine stated that sin arises when things that are a minor good are pursued as though they were the most important goals in life. So when money or affection or power is sought in disproportionate, obsessive ways, sin occurs, and that sin is magnified when we fail to pursue the highest good and the finest goals. So when we ask ourselves why, in a given situation, we committed a sin, the answer is usually one of two things: either we wanted to obtain something we didn’t have, or we feared losing something we did have.

Augustine revealed to us the nature of sin through the power of the will, and John revealed the same truth. When you see someone who is in need and you have enough to supply that need, to give from what you have is to follow Christ. To shut your heart and refuse to give is to show that the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ, has no place in you. John was not setting before us a terrifying perfectionism; he was demanding a life that is always on guard against sin.

Those who do right and love others will find plenty of opportunities to reveal the love of Christ in all the areas of life.

Observe your surroundings and ask God to reveal the needs around you.

Jeremy Summers is ministry director at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, GA and coauthor of Awakening Grace and Paradox (WPH).