Summary: 3 John gives to us a glimpse into the life and struggles of the church of the first century. They struggled with the truth and with personalities. To borrow the words of a New Testament scholar: “Third John is all about the Elder, who wrote it; Gaius, who
Jay Leno once said that the Christmas tree is the perfect houseplant for him because it is already dead. And that’s probably true for many of us.
Growing house plants sometimes is hard work. One preacher was given a Peace Lily for a wedding gift. I don’t know what the symbolism means. Peace Lilies are strong plants. Weeks would go by before they would water it, then he would see it wilting and turning brown. So he would go over and pour a cup of water on the soil. Then a couple of days later, the plant would spring back to life.
Many times we approach our Christian life that way. We throw an occasional cup of water on it until we feel better about ourselves.
But about a year ago, that preacher started taking care of that plant. He began to water it everyday. Then one day, for the first time since their wedding, he saw a flower.
That is the difference between a healthy plant and a just barely living plant. A healthy plant produces a flower. A healthy plant does what it is designed to do.
And a healthy spiritual walk also does what it is designed to do. It produces something, and we see that in this letter of 3 John.
3 John gives to us a glimpse into the life and struggles of the church of the first century. Even the churches under the Apostle John’s care struggled with the truth and with personalities. This personal letter is about showing the right kind of hospitality to authentic, reliable Christian teachers who have been sent out by the Apostle John. To borrow the words of a New Testament scholar: “Third John is all about the Elder, who wrote it; Gaius, who received it; Diotrephes, who provoked it; and Demetrius, who carried it.”
Diotrephes was causing some problems in the house-church that he led. John wrote to his personal friend Gaius to tell him about this. In doing it he gives some traits of a growing Christian.
Like a healthy plant, a growing Christian will produce these fruits.
For any growing Christian these traits should be obvious to those with whom you work and live and play. To claim you’re a Christian without these traits is to claim you’re a live Christmas tree that is cut…headed to death.
The first trait of a healthy Christian life is to…
Live as if your report is good - 3 John 1:1-4
Do you remember report card day growing up? Some students live for report card day. I knew kids who received money for A’s and B’s. Some students hope their report is just good enough not to get into trouble.
In Christ, our lives should be such that our report is good. 3 John…verse 1….
The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.  Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.  It 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.  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
The report about Gaius is good. John has some extraordinary words about Gaius.
He hopes that Gaius’ body is as healthy as his spirit. That is amazing to me, and it shows that Gaius was spiritually fit.
We live in a society where physical fitness is honored. Athletes are heroes. Popular musicians are instructed “to look the part of the superstar”. Movie Stars pay large amounts of money for personal trainers.
Even in the time of the New Testament, people took serious consideration to physical fitness. Paul used examples of running races to describe the Spiritual life.
But to have our spiritual life set the standard for our physical fitness? What a new concept! But that is the description of Gaius. May you be as healthy as your spirit is.
With physical fitness the evidence is clear. You lose weight. You tone your muscles. Your entire appearance might change. When we become spiritually fit, the difference will show as well.
It will show in the way we interact with others. It will show in how we manage our time. It will be revealed in the things we think and talk about. Something about us will be different.
John Maxwell is an expert in the area of leadership, especially Chistian leadership. In his book Today Matters he makes a statement that applies to growth. He says;
The truth is, if we don’t take responsibility for our growth, it won’t happen. Growth is not automatic. If you believe it simply comes with age, you might turn out like the subject of singer and comedian Tennessee Ernie Ford’s comment, “He started at the bottom, and sort of liked it there.”