Archive for the ‘3 John’ Category

3 John 7-15

In 3 John 7-15 the elder continues to remind us that we are all part of the ministry of the Good News.  “For they are traveling for the Lord and take neither food, clothing, shelter, nor money from those who are not Christians, even though they have preached to them.” We all have a part by going or have a part by helping, but everyone has a part and should do it well. “So we ourselves should take care of them in order that we may become partners with them in the Lord’s work.” Our role in the ministry is vitally important at those who give themselves to do the work, need to be supported and cared for by those of us who are not actively in the trenches day to day.

John goes on, after giving us the positive example of Gaius, to a much less positive role model. “I sent a brief letter to the church about this, but proud Diotrephes, who loves to push himself forward as the leader of the Christians there, does not admit my authority over him and refuses to listen to me.” John publicly rebuked Diotrephes by name. He calls him out as one who wants to be viewed as leader, but refuses to submit to authority.  Those two actions are in direct contradiction to each other. The problem for Diotrephes was pride. In his pride, he did not receive the apostles such as John.

Diotrephes not only used his influence to forbid others from showing hospitality to John or others; he even tried to excommunicate those who tried to show hospitality. “When I come I will tell you some of the things he is doing and what wicked things he is saying about me and what insulting language he is using. He not only refuses to welcome the missionary travelers himself but tells others not to, and when they do he tries to put them out of the church.” Diotrephes not only used his influence to forbid others from showing hospitality to John or his associates; he even tried to excommunicate those who tried to show such hospitality.

Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do what is right prove that they are God’s children; and those who continue in evil prove that they are far from God.” How we live and act matters. It shows our standing with God.  John shifts yet again to a good example. “But everyone, including Truth itself, speaks highly of Demetrius. I myself can say the same for him, and you know I speak the truth.” Demetrius was so faithful to the truth that even the truth was a witness on his behalf.  John wraps up his letter, indicating that he hopes to come see them soon. “I have much to say, but I don’t want to write it, for I hope to see you soon and then we will have much to talk about together. So good-bye for now. Friends here send their love, and please give each of the folks there a special greeting from me.”

3 John 1-6

In 3 John 1-6 the elder writes to Gaius, a man whom John deeply loved.  He begins the letter with a blessing and prayer – that Gaius will prosper and be healthy.  John is praying for things to go well with this obviously deep friend.  John here makes an analogy between the condition of our health and the condition of our soul. Many of us would be desperately ill if our physical health was instantly in the same state as their spiritual health. Think about that. “From: John, the Elder. To: Dear Gaius, whom I truly love. Dear friend, I am praying that all is well with you and that your body is as healthy as I know your soul is.”

As a spiritual leader, nothing pleased John more than to know that his children walked in truth. John knew that Gaius walked in truth because his brothers in Christ came and testified that Gaius was living according to God’s truth. His walk of truth was noticed by others, and they could talk about it because they saw it. It was lived transparently for all to see. “Some of the brothers traveling by have made me very happy by telling me that your life stays clean and true and that you are living by the standards of the Gospel. I could have no greater joy than to hear such things about my children.” And the result of a life well lived is to bring joy to all who see it.

To walk in truth means to walk in a way that is real and genuine, without any phoniness or concealment. Gaius does that.  But he also sets a good example by the way he cares for others. John praised Gaius for his hospitality. This may seem somewhat trivial to us, but it is not to God. This is practically living out the essential command to love one another; it is love in action. “Dear friend, you are doing a good work for God in taking care of the traveling teachers and missionaries who are passing through.” John knew that when Christians assist those who contend for the truth, they become fellow workers for the truth.  It makes us part of the work of the ministry.

They have told the church here of your friendship and your loving deeds. I am glad when you send them on their way with a generous gift.” As Christ Followers, we must be part of doing something to help the spread of the gospel. Then we must do it in a manner worthy of God. God calls every one of us to have a part in the great commission.  It isn’t optional.  Gaius is doing that, not only by caring for the teachers and missionaries that passed through, but also by supporting them with money when they moved on to the next place.  Love is an action word, and Gaius demonstrates that clearly for all of us to see!

3 John

John 3 has our writer talking about following good examples in life.  He focuses on those who are walking as Christ Followers should.  “I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth”.  Nothing pleased John more than to know that his children walk in truth.  How we live matters, not only to us, but to all those around us.  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”. To walk in truth means to walk consistent with the truth you believe. If you believe that you are fallen, then walk in awareness of your sinfulness. If you believe you are a child of God, then walk like a child of His. If you believe you are forgiven, the walk like a person who stands pure before God Himself.

But Gaius, the recipient of this letter, was doing more than walking in truth. Gaius practices the command to love one another. “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God”. John praised Gaius for his hospitality. This may seem somewhat trivial to us, but it is not to God. This is a practical way to live out the command to love one another; it is love in action.  Love is not a feeling.  It is action.

John challenges Gaius to also be a sender.  He’s not only praised for receiving those who came to worship in truth, but is to send people out to carry and share the good news, not merely with a farewell, but with support so they can carry on the mission of Jesus Christ.  “We ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth”.  John prays for the prosperity of Gaius because he used his resources in a godly way, being a blessing to others. If God blessed him with more, others would be blessed more also.

John warns of some bad eggs in the church.  It’s never easy to be a Christ Follower, as the enemy is always stirring things and trying to disrupt the world we live in. John warns us to walk in the truth, just as he started with praise in the first part of this letter for Gaius. “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God”.  John winds down his letter with a stern warning to do what is good – it should be an outcome of our faith.  How we live doesn’t save us, but it does indicate our heart and where we are in relationship with God.

3 John

 3 John is a short chapter but contains some important lessons for us.  John tells us there is “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”.  What is the report your life bears?  Are you walking in the truth?  Is the Father smiling about the way that you lived yesterday?  How about with your plans today?  I think we often take far too flippantly the impact of our life.  We tend to find Jesus – get saved – and then just live anyway we wish.  We think we have a get out of jail free card and the day to day living isn’t really that important.  It is not so.  God cares how we live.  God cares that we have read His Word and are lining up with it as we walk each day on this earth.  He cares whether or not we are becoming like Jesus – godly and holy in our living.  It brings joy to His heart.  It matters for our eternity – not where we spend it – but how we do.  Are you truly walking as a Follower of Jesus?  In His truth? 

John reminds these folks that some will go and serve in sharing the gospel with others.  He challenges them to “send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God….they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles….we ought to support people like these”.  Do you have anyone you partner with in the ministry?  They don’t necessarily have to be overseas, but they may.  They don’t have to be part of some formal ministry, but they may be.  The reality is that all of us need to be involved in sharing the truth of Jesus.  First in our own patch – through the way we live (walking in the truth) and through the words we speak.  That task starts at home and moves to those around us.  But we also need to be part of God’s heart to reach people everywhere.  He has a heart for the nations.  He won’t return until all have heard the message of grace through Christ.  We are part of delivering that.  We need to be involved in praying for, encouraging, supporting and loving others who have answered His call to go to the ends of the earth with His message.  Are you involved in supporting someone (or many) who share God’s gospel?  Having someone close to us that has been called has certainly brought this close to home.  Fundraising is not the hard part – staying encouraged, prayed for, and loved half a world away is.  Find a way to encourage someone who is serving our Lord today. 

John then takes a hard line against a couple folks who just get it wrong.  Diotrephes is not living in a way that is worthy of God. He “likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority”.  Hmmm….that sounds sort of like many of us today.  The battle of self didn’t start this year – it has been the struggle since God created Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  We can’t serve when self is on the throne.  We can’t be effective as Christ Followers when we are unwilling to submit to authority.  Submission and selflessness are related.  When we are selfish we too would “refuses to welcome the brothers….stops those who want to…..puts them out of the church”.  You can’t serve God when you are focused on serving yourself.  Far too many live that way – putting self first and giving God the scraps should there be any.  The warning is clear: “do not imitate evil but imitate good”.  What is your testimony?  Are you living for God?  Is He truly Lord of your life?  Or has self crept onto the throne so you are putting self first and refusing God’s authority in your life.  That is a bad place to be.  We need to be like Demetrius, the other example John uses here, that “received a good testimony from everyone”.  That is God’s desire.  Our ultimate desire should be to hear Him say “well done good and faithful servant”.  Are you living a life worthy of that?

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