Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Will Be Reported About You?

Reading: 3 John  
What reports would you want to be given about you? Maybe there are some old friends you knew years ago from another city, and a mutual friend is traveling to see them. What might they report about you? John writes to a dear friend, Gaius, in his third epistle (letter); someone who, it seems, was converted years prior under his ministry. He has heard reports about this man—reports that tell him that Gaius' soul is doing well (3 John 2). What did he hear? What kind of report would tell John that Gaius' soul was doing well? What kind of report might John hear that would tell him your soul is doing well?
3It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 3-4)
Gaius was faithful to the truth—faithfulness demonstrated by his walking in the truth, and continuing to do so—even in the face of pressure to do otherwise (3 John 10). What does it mean that he was walking in the truth and faithful to the truth? Does it mean all his doctrine was perfect? Does it mean he could debate doctrine with the best of them? While doctrine is important, that isn't the point here.
If one were to speculate how John knew Gaius was walking in the truth, or what it looks like to be faithful to the truth of the Gospel, one might easily surmise that John knew Gaius was walking in the truth because he was loving the brothers. (For instance by thinking about 1 John 2:3-6 you could conclude this.) However, we don't have to speculate, since John immediately tells us how he knew.
5Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth. (3 John 5-8)
They were faithful to the brothers which they then described as love in their report to the church. John then describes it as showing hospitality (more literally, bearing up, or receiving into his heart) to these brothers that we may work together for the truth. What Gaius did in supporting these men who went to the churches teaching the truth was working together with them for the truth. They were loving the truth by supporting these men who taught it and they were loving the recipients of the truth through them. You might say they were loving the truth by living it.
Diotrephes, on the other hand, loved himself (3 John 9-10). He apparently felt threatened by other men who taught the truth. He did not want them supported, slandered them and retaliated against those who supported them by kicking them out of the church. What a contrast to Gaius and the love of truth he showed. Diotrephes has a very small world—small enough that he could be at the center of it. Gaius had a very big world—big enough that truth existed outside himself and was something he served, not something that served him.
What kind of report do you want to be given about you? Are you living for the truth? Do you live for the advance of the Gospel—something bigger than you and which you serve? Or, is the Gospel you have a very small gospel that exists to serve you? May the Gospel compel us to walk as Jesus walked—laying down our lives for the brothers.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,