Why has God allowed suffering and wickedness until our days?
"How long, O Jehovah, must I cry for help, but you do not hear? How long must I ask for help from violence, but you do not intervene? Why do you make me witness wrongdoing? And why do you tolerate
oppression? Why are destruction and violence before me? And why do quarreling and conflict abound? So law is paralyzed, And justice is never carried out. For the wicked surround the righteous; That is why justice is perverted"
"Again I turned my attention to all the acts of oppression that go on under the sun. I saw the tears of the oppressed, and there
was no one to comfort them. And their oppressors had the power, and there was no one to comfort them. (…) During my futile life I have seen everything—from the righteous one who perishes in his righteousness to the wicked one who lives long despite
his badness. (…) All of this I have seen, and I applied my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, during the time that man has dominated man to his harm. (…) There is something futile that takes place on the earth: There are righteous
people who are treated as if they had acted wickedly, and there are wicked people who are treated as if they had acted righteously. I say that this too is futility. (…) I have seen servants on horseback but princes walking on foot just like servants"
(Ecclesiastes 4:1; 7:15; 8:9,14; 10:7)
"For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but through the one
who subjected it, on the basis of hope"
"When under trial, let no one say: “I am being
tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone"
has God allowed suffering and wickedness until our days?
The real culprit in this situation is Satan the devil, named in the Bible as an accuser (Revelation 12:9). Jesus Christ,
the Son of God said the devil was a liar and a manslayer or murderer of mankind (John 8:44). There are two great accusations that have come to God's attention:
1 - An accusation against
the right of God to rule over his creatures, both invisible and visible.
2 - An accusation regarding the integrity of creation, especially human beings, made in the image of God (Genesis
When a complaint is filed and serious charges are laid, it takes a long time for a prosecution or defense to be investigated, before the trial and final judgment. The prophecy of Daniel chapter 7 presents the situation, in which the sovereignty of God and the integrity of man are involved, at a "Court" where judgment
takes place: “A stream of fire was flowing and going out from before him. A thousand thousands kept ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The Court took its seat, and books were opened. ( …) But the Court sat,
and they took away his rulership, in order to annihilate him and to destroy him completely" (Daniel 7:10,26). As it is written in this text, the sovereignty of the earth, which has always belonged to God, will be taken away from the devil and also from man.
This framework of a "Court" is also presented in Isaiah chapter 43, where it is written that those who take sides for God, are his "witnesses": ""You are my witnesses,” declares Jehovah, “Yes, my servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know
and have faith in me And understand that I am the same One. Before me no God was formed, And after me there has been none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior" (Isaiah 43:10,11). Jesus Christ is also called the "Faithful Witness" of God (Revelation 1:5).
In connection with these two serious accusations, Jehovah God has
allowed Satan the devil and mankind time, over 6,000 years, to present their evidence as to whether they can rule or administer the earth without the sovereignty of God. We are at the end of this experience when the lie of the devil is brought to light by the catastrophic situation in which humanity finds itself, on the verge of collapse (Matthew 24:22). Judgment and the enforcement of the sentence
will take place at the great tribulation (Matthew 24:21; 25: 31-46). Now let's address the two accusations of the devil more specifically
by examining what happened in Eden, in Genesis chapters 2 and 3, and the book of Job chapters 1 and 2.
1 - An accusation against the right of God to rule over his
creatures, both invisible and visible
Genesis chapter 2 informs us that God created man and put him in a "garden" called Eden of several thousand hectares, if not more. Adam
was in ideal conditions. In this paradise setting, he enjoyed great freedom (John 8:32). However, God set a limit on this immense freedom: a tree: "Jehovah God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eʹden to cultivate it and to take care of it. Jehovah
God also gave this command to the man: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will certainly die" (Genesis 2:15-17).
"The tree of knowledge of good and bad" was simply the concrete representation of the abstract concept of good and bad. Henceforth this real tree, represented for Adam, the concrete limit, a "(concrete) knowledge of the good and the bad", fixed by God, between
the "good", to keep obeying Him and not to eat of it and the "bad", the disobedience.
It is clearly evident that this commandment of God was not "burdensome" (compare with Matthew 11:28-30
"For my yoke is kindly, and my load is light" and 1 John 5:3 "His commandments are not burdensome" (those of God)). By the way, some have said that the "forbidden fruit" stands for carnal relationships: this is wrong, because when God gave this commandment,
Eve did not exist. God was not going to forbid something that Adam could not know (Compare the chronology of events Genesis 2:15-17 (the command of God) with 2:18-25 (the creation of Eve)).
The temptation of the devil
"Now the serpent was the most cautious of all the wild animals of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it said to the woman: “Did
God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” At this the woman said to the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But God has said about the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden:
‘You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it; otherwise you will die.’” At this the serpent said to the woman: “You certainly will not die. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you
will be like God, knowing good and bad.” Consequently, the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was something desirable to the eyes, yes, the tree was pleasing to look at. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it. Afterward, she
also gave some to her husband when he was with her, and he began eating it" (Genesis 3:1-6).
The sovereignty of God has been openly attacked by the devil. Satan implied that God was
withholding information for the purpose of harming his creatures: "For God knows" (implying that Adam and Eve did not know and that it was harming them). Nevertheless, God always remained in control of the situation.
Why did Satan speak to Eve rather than Adam? To use the inspired expression of the apostle Paul, to "deceive" her: "Also, Adam was not deceived, but the woman was thoroughly deceived and became a transgressor" (1 Timothy 2:14 ). In
what way was Eve deceived? Because of her young age, because she had very few years of experience, while Adam was at least over forty. In fact, Eve was little surprised, at her young age, that a snake spoke to her. She normally continued this unusual conversation.
Therefore, Satan took advantage of Eve's inexperience to cause her to sin. However, Adam knew what he was doing, he made the decision to sin in a deliberate way. This first accusation of the devil was linked to God's evident right to rule over his creatures,
both invisible and visible (Revelation 4:11).
Shortly before the end of that day, before sunset, God judged the three culprits (Genesis 3:8-19). Before determining the guilt of Adam and Eve,
Jehovah God asked them a question about their gesture. So they replied: "“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, so I ate.” (…) “The serpent deceived me, so I ate.”" (Genesis 3:12,13). Far from
admitting they were guilty, both Adam and Eve tried to justify themselves. Adam even indirectly reproached God for giving him a woman who made him sin: "The woman whom you gave to be with me". In Genesis 3:14-19, we can read the judgment of God with a promise
of the fulfillment of his purpose: "And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike him in the heel" (Genesis 3:15). By this promise, Jehovah God was particularly signifying
that his purpose would inevitably come true, by informing Satan the devil that he would be destroyed. From that moment on, sin entered into the world, as well as its main consequence, death: "That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world
and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned" (Romans 5:12).
2 - An accusation against the integrity of the human being, made
in the image of God
The challenge of Satan the devil
The devil hinted
that there was a flaw in human nature. This is evident in the devil’s challenge regarding the integrity of faithful servant Job:
"Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Where have
you come from?” Satan answered Jehovah: “From roving about on the earth and from walking about in it.” And Jehovah said to Satan: “Have you taken note of my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth. He is an upright man of
integrity, fearing God and shunning what is bad.” At that Satan answered Jehovah: “Is it for nothing that Job has feared God? Have you not put up a protective hedge around him and his house and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his
hands, and his livestock has spread out in the land. But, for a change, stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your very face.” Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Look! Everything that he has is in your hand.
Only do not lay your hand on the man himself!” So Satan went out from the presence of Jehovah. (…) Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Where have you come from?” Satan answered Jehovah: “From roving about on the earth and from walking
about in it.” And Jehovah said to Satan: “Have you taken note of my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth. He is an upright man of integrity, fearing God and shunning what is bad. He is still holding firmly to his integrity, even though
you try to incite me against him to destroy him for no reason.” But Satan answered Jehovah: “Skin for skin. A man will give everything that he has for his life. But, for a change, stretch out your hand and strike his bone and flesh, and he will
surely curse you to your very face.” Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Look! He is in your hand! Only do not take his life!”" (Job 1:7-12 ; 2:2-6).
The fault of human beings,
according to Satan the devil, is that they serve God, not out of love for their Creator, but out of self-interest and opportunism. Under pressure, by the loss of his possessions and by fear of death, still according to Satan the devil, man could only depart
from his loyalty to God. But Job demonstrated that Satan the devil is a liar: Job lost all his possessions, and he lost his 10 children and he came close to death with a "painful boil" (Job 1 and 2). Three false comforters took it upon themselves to psychologically
torture Job, implying that all his misfortunes came from hidden sins on his part, and that therefore God was chastising him for his guilt and wickedness. Nevertheless, Job did not depart from his integrity and replied: "It is unthinkable for me to declare
you men righteous! Until I die, I will not renounce my integrity!" (Job 27:5).
However, the most important defeat of the devil regarding the integrity of man until death, was connected
with Jesus Christ, who has been obedient to his Father, until death: “More than that, when he came as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death, yes, death on a torture stake" (Philippians 2:8 ). Jesus Christ, by his integrity even to death, offered his Father a very precious spiritual victory, that is why he has been rewarded: "For this very reason, God exalted
him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend—of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground— and every tongue should openly acknowledge
that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).
In the illustration of the prodigal son, Jesus Christ allows us to better understand his Father's way
of dealing with situations where his creatures for a time challenge his authority (Luke 15:11-24). The prodigal son asked his father for his inheritance and to leave the house. The father allowed his son to take this decision, but also to bear the consequences.
Likewise, God left Adam to use his free choice, but also to bear the consequences. Which brings us to the next question regarding the suffering of mankind.
Suffering is the result of four main factors
1 - The
devil is the one who causes suffering (but not always) (Job 1:7-12; 2:1-6). According to Jesus Christ, he is the ruler of this world: "Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out" (John 12:31; 1 John 5:19). This is why
humanity as a whole is unhappy: "For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22).
2 - Suffering is the result of our condition
of sinners, which leads us to old age, sickness and death: "That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned. (…) For the wages sin pays is death”
(Romans 5:12; 6:23).
3 - Suffering can be the result of bad human decisions (on our part or those of other humans): "For I do not do the good that I wish, but the bad that I do not wish
is what I practice” (Deuteronomy 32:5; Romans 7:19). The suffering is not the result of a "supposed law of karma". Here is what we can read in John chapter 9: "As he was passing along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked
him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, so that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered: “Neither this man sinned nor his parents, but it was so that the works of God might be made manifest in his case” (John 9:1-3). The "works
of God", in his case, were to be his miraculous healing.
4 - Suffering can be the result of "unexpected times and events" which cause the person to be in the wrong place at the wrong
time: "I have seen something further under the sun, that the swift do not always win the race, nor do the mighty win the battle, nor do the wise always have the food, nor do the intelligent always have the riches, nor do those with knowledge always have success,
because time and unexpected events overtake them all. For man does not know his time. Just as fish are caught in an evil net and birds are caught in a trap, so the sons of men are ensnared in a time of disaster, when it suddenly overtakes them" (Ecclesiastes
Here is what Jesus Christ said about two tragic events which had caused many deaths: “At that time some who were present reported to him about the Gal·i·leʹans
whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. In reply he said to them: “Do you think that those Gal·i·leʹans were worse sinners than all other Gal·i·leʹans because they have suffered these things? No, I tell you; but
unless you repent, you will all likewise be destroyed. Or those 18 on whom the tower in Si·loʹam fell, killing them—do you think that they had greater guilt than all other men who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will
all be destroyed, as they were.”" (Luke 13:1-5). At no time Jesus Christ suggested that victims of accidents or natural disasters sinned more than others, or even, that God causes such events to punish sinners. Whether it is illnesses, accidents or natural
disasters, it is not God who causes them and those who are victims have not sinned more than others.
God will end all this suffering: “With that I heard a loud voice from the throne
say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his people. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor
pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”” (Revelation 21:3,4).
Fate, Predestinarianism and Free Choice
Fate or fatalism, Predestinarianism are not Bible teachings. We are not programmed to do good or bad, but according to the "free choice", we choose to do good or bad (Deuteronomy 30:15). This view of fate or fatalism
is closely linked to the idea that many people have about the omniscience of God and his ability to know the future. We will see how God uses his omniscience and ability to know events ahead of time. We will see from the Bible, that God uses it in a selective
and discretionary way or for a specific purpose, by several biblical examples.
God uses his omniscience in a discretionary and selective way
Did God know that Adam would sin? According to the context of Genesis 2 and 3, not at all. How God would have given a command that He would have known in advance that Adam would have disobeyed?
This would have been contrary to His Love and everything had been done for this command not to be "burdensome" (1 John 4:8; 5:3). We will take two biblical examples that demonstrate that God uses his ability to know the future in a selective and discretionary
way. But also, that He always use this ability for a specific purpose.
The first example is the one with Abraham. In Genesis 22:1-14, there is the very painful account for Abraham of
God's request to sacrifice his son Isaac. By asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, did He know in advance whether Abraham would be able to obey? Depending on the immediate context of the story, He did not know. While at the last moment God prevented Abraham
from doing such an act, it is written this: “Do not harm the boy, and do not do anything at all to him, for now I do know that you are God-fearing because you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me” (Genesis 22:12). It is written "now
I do know that you are God-fearing". The sentence "now I do know", shows that God did not know whether Abraham would fully follow through on this request.
The second example concerns
the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Shortly before the destruction of these two cities, Jehovah said this to Abraham: “Then Jehovah said: “The outcry against Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah is indeed great, and their sin is very heavy. 21 I will
go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it.”” (Genesis 18:20,21). The fact that God sent two angels to verify a scandalous situation, demonstrates once again that at first,
He did not have all the evidence to make a decision, and in this case, He used his ability to know or to inform himself, by means of two angels.
If we read the different prophetic biblical
books, we will find that God always uses his ability to know the future for a very specific purpose (Zechariah's prophecy; Daniel's prophecy). Let's take a simple biblical example. While Rebecca was pregnant with twins, the problem was which of the two children would be the ancestor of the nation chosen by God. For that, God had to use
his foreknowledge to designate which of the two unborn children would be worthy of such a privilege: "Re·bekʹah became pregnant. And the sons within her began to struggle with each other, so that she said: “If this is the way it is, why should
I go on living?” So she inquired of Jehovah. And Jehovah said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples will be separated from within you; and the one nation will be stronger than the other nation, and the older will serve the younger.””
The eldest being Esau, ancestor of the nation of Edom, was effectively supplanted in his birthright by his younger brother Jacob, ancestor of the nation of Israel,
for having sold him for a simple dish of lentils (Genesis 25:34). This demonstrated that Esau was a man devoid of spirituality, and that God used his foreknowledge to choose the best man, Jacob, to be the founder of his special nation, Israel (Hebrews 12:16,17).
This does not mean that Jehovah God interfered in the free choice of Jacob and Esau, to influence them, one to be spiritual and the other fleshly. Jehovah God made a simple observation of each genetic makeup (even if it is not genetics that fully controls
future behavior), and then in his foreknowledge, He made a projection in the future to know what kinds of men they were going to become: "Your eyes even saw me as an embryo; All its parts were written in your book Regarding the days when they were formed,
Before any of them existed" (Psalms 139:16). Based on this foreknowledge, God made his choice (Romans 9:10-13).
To emphasize this very focused use of the foreknowledge of God, we can
take a last example. After the death of the traitor Judas Iscariot, he had to be replaced by another apostle. Now the apostles had to choose between two men, Barsabbas Justus and Matthias. The apostles prayed that God would choose the man: "And they prayed
and said: “You, O Jehovah, who know the hearts of all, designate which one of these two men you have chosen, to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas deviated to go to his own place.” So they cast lots over them, and
the lot fell upon Mat·thiʹas; and he was reckoned along with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:24-26). “You, O Jehovah, who know the hearts of all”, shows that in some cases God uses his foreknowledge to make the best choice over the person,
without interfering with the free will of the human being.
Does God Protect Us?
understanding God's thinking on the subject of our personal protection, it is important to consider three important biblical points (1 Corinthians 2:16):
1 - Jesus Christ showed that
the present life which ends in death has a provisional value for all humans. For example he compared the death of Lazarus to "sleep", which by definition is temporary (John 11:11). Further, Jesus Christ showed that what matters is to preserve our prospect of everlasting life rather than seeking to "survive" a trial at the cost of serious compromise: "Whoever finds his soul will lose it, and whoever
loses his soul for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39). The word "soul", depending on the context, is to be taken in the meaning of life (Genesis 35:16-19). The apostle Paul, under inspiration, showed that "real life" is that centered on the hope of eternal
life in paradise: "safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, so that they may get a firm hold on the real life" (1 Timothy 6:19).
When we read the book of
Acts, we find that sometimes God allowed the test of the Christian to end until his death, in the case of the apostle James and the disciple Stephen (Acts 7: 54-60; 12: 2). In other cases, God decided to protect the disciple. For example, after the death of
the apostle James, God decided to protect the apostle Peter from an identical death (Acts 12:6-11). Generally, in the biblical context, the protection or otherwise of a servant of God is often linked to his purpose. For example, while it was in the midst of
a shipwreck, there was a collective divine protection from the apostle Paul and as well as all the people on the boat: "This night an angel of the God to whom I belong and to whom I render sacred service stood by me and said: ‘Have no fear, Paul. You
must stand before Caesar, and look! God has granted to you all those sailing with you'" (Acts 27:23,24). The collective divine protection was part of a higher divine purpose, namely that Paul was to bear witness to kings (Acts 9:15,16).
2 - This question of divine protection must be placed in the context of the two challenges launched by Satan and particularly in the remarks he made regarding the integrity of Job: "Have you not put up a protective
hedge around him and his house and everything he has?" (Job 1:10). To answer the question of integrity of Job and all of mankind, this challenge from the devil shows that God had to, in a relative way, remove his protection from Job, which could well apply
as well all of humanity. Shortly before he died, Jesus Christ, citing Psalm 22:1, showed that God had taken away all protection from him, which resulted in his death as a sacrifice (John 3:16): "About the ninth hour, Jesus called out with a loud voice, saying:
“Eʹli, Eʹli, laʹma sa·bach·thaʹni?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Matthew 27:46). Nevertheless, concerning humanity as a whole, this withdrawal of divine protection remains relative, for
just as God forbade the devil to directly kill Job, it is evident that the same is true of all of humanity as worldwide group (compare with Matthew 24:22).
3 - We have examined above,
that suffering can be the result of "unforeseen times and events" which make that people can find themselves at the wrong time, in the wrong place (Ecclesiastes 9:11,12). Thus, in general, humans are not protected by God from the consequences of the choice
that was originally made by Adam. Man ages, gets sick and dies (Romans 5:12). He can be the victim of accidents or natural disasters. The apostle Paul, inspired, wrote it well: "For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but through the
one who subjected it, on the basis of hope" (Romans 8:20; the book of Ecclesiastes is a detailed description of the futility of the present life which inevitably leads to death: ""The greatest futility!” says the congregator, “The greatest futility!
Everything is futile"" (Ecclesiastes 1:2)).
In addition, God does not protect humans from the consequences of their bad decisions: "Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For
whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap; because the one sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but the one sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit" (Galatians 6:7,8). As God has
subjected mankind to futility for a long time, it allows us to understand that He has withdrawn His protection from the consequences of our sinful condition. Certainly, this perilous situation for all mankind will be temporary: "The creation itself will also
be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8:21). It is then that the whole of humanity, after the resolution of the devil's challenge, will find the benevolent protection of God in the earthly
paradise: "No disaster will befall you, And no plague will come near your tent. For he will give his angels a command concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. They will carry you on their hands, So that you may not strike your foot against a stone" (Psalms
Does this mean that currently we are no longer individually protected by God? The protection that God gives us is that of our future, in terms of the hope of everlasting life,
either by the survival of the great tribulation or by the resurrection, if we endure to the end (Matthew 24:13 ; John 5: 28,29; Acts 24:15; Revelation
7:9-17). In addition, Jesus Christ in his description of the sign of the last days (Matthew 24, 25, Mark 13 and Luke 21), and the
book of Revelation (particularly in chapters 6:1-8 and 12:12), show that humanity would go through great misfortunes since 1914, which
suggests that for a time God would not preserve it.
However, God has not left us without the possibility of protecting ourselves individually through the application of his benevolent guidance contained in the Bible, his Word. Broadly speaking, the application of biblical principles makes it possible to avoid unnecessary risks which could shorten our life in an absurd way: "My son, do not forget my teaching, And may your heart observe my commandments, Because
they will add many days And years of life and peace to you" (Proverbs 3: 1,2). We saw above that fate does not exist. Therefore, the application of biblical principles, the guidance of God, will be comparable to looking carefully to the right and to the left
before crossing the street, in order to preserve our life: "The shrewd person sees the danger and conceals himself, But the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences" (Proverbs 27:12).
The apostle Peter insisted on being vigilant in view of prayer: "But the end of all things has drawn close. Therefore, be sound
in mind, and be vigilant with a view to prayers" (1 Peter 4:7). Prayer and meditation can have a protective effect on our spiritual
and mental balance: "Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental
powers by means of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7; Genesis 24:63).
Some believe that they have been specially protected by God at a moment in their lives. Nothing in the Bible
prevents to glimpse this exceptional possibility on the part of God, quite the contrary: "I will declare before you the name of Jehovah; and I will favor the one whom I favor, and I will show mercy to the one to whom I show mercy" (Exodus 33:19). This experience
remains in the order of the exclusive relationship between God and this person who would have been protected, it is not for us to
judge: "Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Jehovah can make him stand" (Romans 14:4).
Let Us Love And Help Our Neighbor
Before the end of
suffering, we must do our individual part to love and help our neighbor, in order to alleviate the suffering in our surroundings: "I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this all
will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves" (John 13:34,35). The disciple James, half-brother of Jesus Christ, wrote well that this kind of love must be concretized by acts or initiatives in order to help our neighbor who is
in distress: "If a brother or a sister is lacking clothing and enough food for the day, 16 yet one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but you do not give them what they need for their body, of what benefit is it?" (James
2:15,16). Jesus Christ encouraged to help those who can never give it back to us: "But when you spread a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you. For you will be repaid
in the resurrection of the righteous ones" (Luke 14:13,14). In doing this, in a certain way, we "lend" to Jehovah and He will reward us... a hundredfold: "The one showing favor to the lowly is lending to Jehovah, And He will repay him for what he does" (Proverbs
It is interesting to note what Jesus Christ mentioned as acts of mercies which will allow us or not, to have his favor: "For I became hungry and you gave me something to eat;
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; naked and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you visited me" (Matthew 25:31-46). To feed, to give drink, to welcome strangers,
to dress, to visit the sick, to visit prisoners imprisoned because of their faith. It should be noted that among all of these good actions, there is no act that could be considered "religious". Why? Often, Jesus Christ repeated this sentence: "I want mercy,
and not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13; 12:7). The general meaning of the word "mercy" is compassion or pity in action (the narrower meaning is forgiveness). When someone is in need, whether we know him or not, our heart is moved, and if we are able to do so, we
bring them assistance (Proverbs 3:27,28).
The sacrifice represents spiritual acts
directly linked to the worship of God. While of course our relationship with God is most important, Jesus Christ showed that we should not use the pretext of "sacrifice" to refrain from showing mercy. In a certain circumstance, Jesus Christ
condemned some of his contemporaries who used the pretext of "sacrifice" not to materially help their aging parents (Matthew 15:3-9). In this case, it is interesting to note what Jesus Christ made say to those who will seek his approval and they will not have
it: “Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’" (Matthew 7:22). If we compare Matthew 7:21-23 with 25:31-46 and John 13:34,35,
we realize that although the spiritual "sacrifice" is closely linked to mercy, it is far from being subordinate to the "sacrifice", from the point of view of Jehovah God and of his Son Jesus Christ: "But whoever has the material possessions of this world and
sees his brother in need and yet refuses to show him compassion, in what way does the love of God remain in him? Little children, we should love, not in word or with the tongue, but in deed and truth" (1 John 3:17,18; Matthew 5:7).
The end of suffering is very near