Summary: If you can't speak the truth in love, why speak at all? John could do it, and that is why we have this love letter to a loving lady.
Herodotus, the Greek historian, tells this story from ancient
history. Hestiaeus wanted Aristagorus to revolt, but could not get a
message to him because the roads were guarded. So he took one of
the most trusted slaves and shaved all the hair off his head, and then
scratched letters into the skin of his scalp. Then he waited until the
hair was grown in again, and he was dispatched to Miletus. All he
had to do was ask Aristagorus to shave his head, and see the
message to revolt.
And we thought body language was something new. They had a
head start on us. But clever as it was, this method of sending a letter
never really caught on. In spite of its many limitations, however, it
had this great virtue: It forced the writer to be brief and to the
point. We need to learn this lesson, a few words of concern is of
infinitely more value than silence. How often we do not write
because we have little to say, when the fact is, it is little that we
The great preacher of the last century, T. DeWitt Tallmage,
considered the introduction of the post card a national blessing
because it forced people to learn brevity. It got to be a custom to
spend the first page of a letter in flowery introduction, and the last
page in putting on the brakes trying to stop. The post card forces
the writer to use an economy of words, and get right to the message.
Tallmage was convinced if all used the post card it would add
several years to a mans life. The telegraph made it even better. A
son sent this message home from college: "No mon, no fun, son."
The father got the point and responded, "To bad, so sad, dad."
That is what you call brief communication.
History has proven that a letter does not have to be long to have a
lasting impact on lives. Back in 1850, Harriet Beecher Stove
received a letter from her sister. In it she told of the fugitive slave
law, and the attempt to enforce it. Then she wrote, "Now, Hattie, if
I could use a pen as you can, I would write something that would
make this entire nation feel what an accursed thing slavery is!" This
simple sentence challenge was like the message on the slaves head. It
said "revolt," and Harriet responded to that message. She put her
life-blood and prayers into the writing of Uncle Tom's Cabin. She
hoped to earn enough to buy a new silk dress, but instead, she
became rich. Her books sold like wild fire. Three paper mills
needed to run consistently to supply the paper for this book that
changed history, and made her one of the most prominent women in
the world. It was translated into many languages, and was a key
tool in ridding the world of slavery. And it all started with a letter.
C.S. Lewis wrote over 100 letters to a widow in America. She
was four years older than he was. They never met, but wrote each
other for years. He never dreamed his letters would be published.
They were just short notes he could dash off in a few minutes, but
they now are a book for the enjoyment and edification of the whole
Christian world. These letters give us deep insight into this man of
Never underestimate the power of a letter. God certainly did not.
21 out of the 27 books of the New Testament are letters, and parts of
the other six are also letters. God must have inspired the idea of the
postal system, for it was basic for His whole plan for mankind, and it
still is today. Letters are a key method of communication, and every
day the will of God is being fulfilled through letter writing. Some
have a gift for letter writing, and can do much good through it.
This morning we want to focus again on this little letter of II
John. III John is even smaller in size, but you can only tell this by
counting the Greek words. John, in this letter to a sweet, lovable,
and loving lady, seeks to enlist her in the battle for truth. Many
deceivers have gone out into the world says John, and they are a
threat to the advancement to the Kingdom of God. John urges her
to stand fast in the truth, and to repel these attackers of the truth,
and refuse to support them.
In so doing John acknowledges the important role that women
play in the battle for truth. In the war of good and evil both sides
have recognized that women are vital for victory. That side which
can enlist the support of women is the side most likely to win. That