2019-07-07 – 3 John 1 – Love In The Truth
Bible Text: 3 John 1 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: 3 John | 2019-07-07 – 3 John 1 – Love In The Truth
(Happy Independence Day week, VBS, Annabelle’s B-day, Lord’s Supper)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Today we are going talk a little about the subject of Christian hospitality.
Being that it is just after our 4th of July celebrations, I have a funny military illustration for you. An air force chaplain was transferred to another base and was allowed to decide between two houses to live in. Along with his wife and four-year-old daughter, he inspected the two houses. As soon as they finished inspecting the first house, their four-year-old daughter said that she did not like the house. No problem; they just went to the other house to inspect that one. The girl made it quite clear that she did not like that house either. There were no more choices, so her confused parents asked, “What is it that you don’t like about these houses?” The disappointed girl answered, “Neither one of them has beds!”
Regarding hospitality, the sad thing is in today’s culture in America, many people don’t open up their homes up any more. One might think, they too didn’t have any beds. We will see in scripture today, that is not God’s intention for us.
Please turn in your Bibles to 3 John 1, pg 1087 in the Pew Bibles, The Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, and let us start with Prayer.
Like we learned last week, this book of Third John is the second shortest book of the Bible. The shortest is what we went over last week being Second John. Both these letter-books were written to a specific individual by the Apostle John himself. Sadly most people don’t write many letters anymore. If we get a personal letter in the mail, it is now a very unusual but special thing. I don’t know about you, but I have written many letters through the years, to many different people, however none of those letters, I pray will ever be published into a book.
Regarding John’s letters-book here, I can’t even fathom how they ended up getting canonized (brought together with the other books) let alone even made known about by the early churches. But here we are today reading them, and our Heavenly Father ordained that we should be doing so. Praise the Lord.
As with Second John, this letter focuses on the basic issue of hospitality, but from a different perspective. While Second John warns against showing hospitality to false teachers, this final letter from John condemns the lack of hospitality shown to faithful ministers of the Word.
John’s letter starts out like most personally written letters, with a greeting:
1 The elder: To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2 Dear friend, I pray that you are prospering in every way and are in good health, just as your whole life is going well. 3 For I was very glad when fellow believers came and testified to your fidelity to the truth—how you are walking in truth. 4 I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in truth.
The elder here of course is the Apostle John. And Gaius was apparently a dear friend. There are several men named Gaius in the New Testament; it is a very common Roman name. John probably met this Gaius in his travels, and maybe stayed and preached in his house church at one time. John was probably in his nineties when this letter was penned, and he wanted to address some issues that he was made known about. It is believed based upon what is said in this letter, that there was actually a previous letter written by John that was sent to that same house church, but it was not apparently received well or maintained.
In this letter John expresses the gospel-centered love he has for this man Gaius. Apart from your spouse, have you ever felt that special bond between you and a fellow Christian? God intends there to be a special bonds between brothers and sisters in Christ; a bond of friendship that often transcends age, experience, even style or personality. I have found that the strongest bonds of Christian friendship are formed when brothers and sisters serve together in some capacity, celebrate together, worship together, go on crazy gospel missions together, and even suffer together—as they live together as the church. When those bonds are created, we begin to care for one another’s lives; we begin to know each other, we become less concerned for ourselves, as we begin to hope and pray for our friends to thrive materially but also spiritually. That’s John’s prayer for Gauis, that he will experience success for his work, good health, and with continued strong faith.
John not only prays for Gaius here in this letter, he shares the JOY he felt when he heard the report about Gaius’ faith. Pastor John says, there is “no greater joy”; that nothing makes him happier, than to know that those in his care are walking in the truth—that what they believe in their heart, is applied to action. We can find many things to be grateful for in our lives, our families and our church. And although I am thankful when one of my children or someone in our church confesses faith in Jesus, it is a true joy to see their faith rendered in action. Conversely though, there is no greater sorrow than when we witness those we care about are not walking in the truth. They may be succeeding according to the world’s standards but failing according to God’s. God, more than anything else wants you to be joyous, but that kind of joy only comes by and through His son Jesus Christ, Amen?
5 Dear friend, you are acting faithfully in whatever you do for the brothers and sisters, especially when they are strangers. 6 They have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, 7 since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. 8 Therefore, we ought to support such people so that we can be coworkers with the truth.
This section here is all about hospitality toward one another. The Bible has a lot to say about Christian hospitality. So the question isn’t whether or not we believe it; the question is whether or not we are going to actually walk in the truth like John’s friend Giaus here. Are you “acting faithfully” in regards to hospitality?
1Peter 4.9 “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling”.
Hebrews 13.1 “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”.
Romans 12.13 – “Contribute to the needs of the saints (fellow-believers) and seek to show hospitality”. That is what John is commending Gaius about, and instructing us about in the first part of this letter. We, like Gaius are to continue showing and demonstrating hospitality for one another.
For the early Christian church, the Christian homes had pretty much an open door policy. And Like many other things, including giving, service, commitment, worship and purity, Christian leaders must set the example for hospitality. I am reminded of what Jesus taught in Matthew 25, He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
Christ followers should be all about Christian hospitality. Nobody says it will be easy, however we must develop a culture of hospitality in our families, our homes, and in our church, Amen? John continues at verse 9:
9 I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have first place among them, does not receive our authority. 10 This is why, if I come, I will remind him of the works he is doing, slandering us with malicious words. And he is not satisfied with that! He not only refuses to welcome fellow believers, but he even stops those who want to do so and expels them from the church.
This is the only mention of Diotrephes in scripture. Whatever position Diotrephes has in his church, he is obviously abusing it. According to John here, he is a prideful, selfish, unloving, false teaching bully. You ever run into one of those? They make everyone around them miserable, especially when it is also related to church work. That is not God’s desire for anyone, let alone a leader within the church. David wrote in Proverbs 16, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud”.
And Jesus said, as written in Matthew 20, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”. As Christians, we cannot be prideful as we are serving one another. I have said this many a time, that God can use a person with a humble heart. I will be the first to attest that it doesn’t come natural for some folks. How’s that old song “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble”. But truly, if the master of the universe, Jesus, can do it, then we should strive to do likewise.
Notice that John also said that Diotrephes did not “receive our authority”. John, as an elder, was the head of the church. And he was accountable to God for his leadership and authority as the shepherd is over the flock. Likewise, as your Pastor, I too am held responsible to God for the charge of leading this church family. But I am not alone in this charge, we also have a deacon, trustees and team leaders, who in order to move forward smartly, must continue to demonstrate good servant leadership practices. Likewise, the church congregation, to remain in God’s will, should choose to “receive our authority” like John wrote about here. I hope you understand. We love you all, we are in this together, and we hope to continue growing in love and service with one another as God blesses us with new members and opportunities moving forward. Amen?
11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.12 Everyone speaks well of Demetrius—even the truth itself. And we also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.
Again John is encouraging his dear friend Gaius to stay the course. John tells him not to imitate the evil Diotrephes, but instead imitate those that are doing good like Demetrius here. Again we don’t know much about Demetrius, other than that he is of good character. We need to surround ourselves with people of good character. We all should know from experience that character rubs off, good or bad. We tend to become more and more like those we hang around with, and I am speaking from experience here. Choose good friends and serve well together.
13 I have many things to write you, but I don’t want to write to you with pen and ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. 15 Peace to you. The friends send you greetings. Greet the friends by name.
John ends his letter in the same way he ended the Second John letter, telling his friends that that he would rather not use paper and ink, but see them again in person, which unfortunately we don’t believe he did as he died in prison. John could have written more, but he knew the danger of long letters and the power of face-to-face conversations. Letters, phone calls, emails, texts, and Facebook messages are all good, but they are not the most effective tools to walk in truth or to walk in love. Real loving relationships comes through face-to-face interactions, and real church comes from real relationships with each other and with God. And it starts with a small core group of people who choose to step into that place of love in Christ, through the good times and maybe even times discomfort as well. Building strong and true Christian relationships together.
My prayer is that, as this young church family re-starts, we will find ourselves viewing one-another differently—as a family—and we will pursue relationship with another in community. That is why God has brought you hear today brothers and sisters…to love and to be loved.
Again, the main point of this message-lesson today from God’s word, is that we need to be getting better at hospitality. We have a lot of great opportunities ahead of us in this church. God wants us to be hospitable, warm, loving, inviting, caring, gracious and humble leaders. Christians, following the Holy Spirits leading, making a difference for Him.
Please Rise, Let us Pray..
Reminder: Next week we have another couple baptisms and followed by a business meeting Wednesday 17 July for the church members.