After his initial introductory encouragement in verses 1–4, John speaks into the difficult situation that the recipient, Gaius, has found his church. John encourages Gaius in his support of traveling brothers and sisters in Christ. However, there is another leader in the church, Diotrephes, who not only refuses to support them, he kicks out of the church anybody who does.
3 John is very short and addressing some very specific circumstances. This is first century, early church correspondence. However, there are several principles that apply to us all.
First, in verse 4, John rejoices “to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” How often do you celebrate obedience? We treat faithfulness and steadfastness as the status quo for believers and only remark when issues arise. What would it look like for you to celebrate those who are walking in truth—those who serve at your church, those who spent time with the Lord every day for a week, those who prayed for the salvation of those in their lives?
Secondly, how do you treat those who carry the message of the Gospel to others? John calls the effort of Gaius and others “a faithful thing” (5), and “you will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God” (6). CPC is big on missions. We love missions and missionaries. As a group, our church gets asked by many to support them as they go, and many of you respond with overwhelming generosity. Thank you. Others, however, don’t respond quite as well. How you support “people like these” (8) is between you and the Lord, however, as a former CRU staff member I will say that not everyone in church treats support raisers well. Your church works to support missions locally, regionally, and internationally—what would it look like for you to do this in your home? Even if you can’t support financially, don’t ignore those who ask to meet with you about the mission God has laid on their heart (nothing hurts as bad as being shunned by those in your church through silence). If you can’t give, you can pray. If you have a theological disagreement or some reason you don’t want to support them, be respectful and honest.
Thirdly, don’t put yourself first, but do good and protect your testimony. Notice the contrast between Diotrephes (9–10) and Demetrius (12). The transition between the two examples is verse 11, “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” Your goodness doesn’t save you, but it shows the world your salvation. And, when you open your mouth to proclaim the Gospel, your witness remains unhindered.
In the comments, share what stuck out to you from today. What is God teaching you and what are you going to do about it?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate