Summary: Some people will change when they see the light. Others change only when they feel the heat. Change is an odd thing - everyone wants to change, but few actually do.
After watching sales falling off for three straight months at Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Colonel called the Pope and asked a favor. ''I need you to change the daily prayer from, 'Give us this day our daily bread' to 'Give us this day our daily chicken.’ If you do, I'll donate 10 Million Dollars to the Vatican.'' The Pope replies, ''I am sorry. That’s the Lord's Prayer and I can’t change the words.'' So the Colonel politely said thank you and hung up the phone. After another month of dismal sales, the Colonel panics, and calls again. ''Your Excellency. I really need your help. I'll give you $50 million dollars if you change the words of the Lord’s Prayer from 'Give us this day our daily bread' to 'Give us this day our daily chicken.''' And the Pope responds, ''It is very tempting, Colonel Sanders. The church could do a lot of good with that much money. It would help us support many charities. But, again, I must decline. It is the Lord's Prayer, and I can't change the words.'' So the Colonel hangs up. After two more months of terrible sales, the Colonel gets desperate. ''Your Excellency, if you change the words of the daily prayer from, 'Give us this day our daily bread' to 'Give us this day our daily chicken' I will donate $100 million to the Vatican.'' The Pope replies, ''Let me get back to you.'' So the next day, the Pope calls together all of his Bishops and says, ''I have some good news and I have some bad news. The good news is that KFC is going to donate $100 million to the Vatican.'' The Bishops rejoice at the news. Then one asks, “What’s the bad news?” The Pope replies, “We lost the Wonder Bread account.''
Some people will change when they see the light. Others change only when they feel the heat. Change is an odd thing - everyone wants to change, but few actually do. We all make resolutions in January but by Mardi Gras, they’re forgotten. The writer of the Epistle, 3 John, was known as the Apostle of Love. But if you had met John in his youth, you probably wouldn’t call him the most loving guy in the world. “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56) Did you catch that? The one who today is called the Apostle of Love wanted to torch and destroy this Samaritan village. But he changed. And if he can turn into a person marked by love, then you and I can change as well. In our Scripture today, we see the heart of the elder of the faith and 3 characteristics of a person who has been changed by God. These 3 shifts are practical ways you can see how you’re growing in God’s grace.
First, a changed person commends the progress of others. “It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” The first thing John does is commend Gaius for his faithfulness. Proverbs 12:25 “A word of encouragement does wonders.” You build each other up. The power of seeing someone’s strength and praising it is amazing because as you affirm the person and help them to grow. It’s a decision that you’re going to be a dream builder and not a dream buster and you’re going to give strokes instead of giving pokes. It can make a huge difference.
When I was a sophomore in high school, our Coach was Bob Gleason. Bob played Division 1 Basketball and coached in college for awhile until he realized he wanted to work with high schoolers. I was vying to make the varsity basketball team. The other forward on the team was Steve Brimmacomb who was a senior and at least an inch taller than me and carried 20 more pounds than I did. At one practice, I blocked a couple of his shots, I had a couple of steals against him and on a fast break I took a charge which sent our Coach into a tirade toward Steve. For the rest of the practice Steve was trying to throw elbows at my face and body as we fought for position in the lane. He was making threats of hurting me and telling me to back down. By the end of practice, I was beat down, not physically but verbally. I was one of the last to leave the court that day, physically exhausted and Coach Gleason came over to me and said, “If you keep playing like that, you’re going to get a lot of playing time. Great job today. Keep it up!” As I walked off the court, my feet didn’t touch the ground. I went home and excitedly shared that word of encouragement with my parents. It made all the difference in my play.