Summary: Lessons from the 3rd John for a blessed Christian walk
In the New Testament, there are 21 letters and 3rd John is the smallest of all the letters. The author is Apostle John. It has only one chapter comprising of 14 verses highlighting the concept of Hospitality, pursuing good and shunning evil. Three individuals and few lessons about them from this chapter are crucial in our Christian walk:
Gaius - A man appreciated for his good work, kindness and generosity to people (III John 1:5-8)
Diotrephes – A man with a careless attitude towards elders and acts of evil and unruly behaviour that hindered many from joining the church. (III John 1:9-11)
Demetrius – A man with good testimony and good behaviour. (III John 1:12)
The Apostle John in his last days was held as a prisoner but before that, he established a church and as an elder in the church of Ephesians, he wrote this epistle to Gaius. We can assume that Gaius, Diotrephes and Demetrius were all the members of the same congregation and on his part, John was taking care of their spiritual wellbeing. Two very prominent words that are found in this chapter are, Truth and Love.
John: 17:17 explains that God’s inherent nature is truth. Likewise, in John 1:14 and in John 14:6, it means that word of God is truth, Lord Jesus Christ is truth and that God is truth. Also, the word ‘beloved’ is often used in this epistle and four times, John addressed Gaius as his beloved, which explains that the base for this love is the truth in Jesus. In other words, it implies that John loved Gaius because of truth/Jesus Christ. Therefore, it can read as ‘because of Jesus Christ, John loves Gaius’ and walking in truth means walking in Jesus.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LOVE AND TRUTH
(Matthew: 22:35-40) The words laws and prophets are used as synonyms to Bible and the foundation of Bible is to love God and love our neighbours. In John 13:34, 35, Jesus clearly explains that the only proof that we identify as God’s Children or Christians or believers is not in our religious attire, or in our preaching but in our ability to love our fellow brothers and sisters. By this, the world will know that we are Christians or disciples of Christ (1 John 4:7-11).
John often called himself as a disciple whom Jesus loves because he knew that it was Jesus who loved Him first and laid down His life as well. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus means that like Him, we are reminded to love our fellow men and never hesitate to even lay down our life for them. Only by loving our fellow believers, can we say that we are in truth or we are in Christ and disobedience to God’s commandments mean – that we are not in truth or in the love of Christ or in Christ.
All these are so interlinked and to love Jesus, means being in truth and walking in truth. Christianity or loving God is following His commandments and loving our fellow members. Anything that is outside this axis is to be in darkness which includes disobedience to God and hating our fellow brothers.
Based on this truth that being in Christ is all about loving God and God’s people, John says that ‘because of this truth, he loves Gaius’ and often calls him as ‘my beloved’. The next progressive step in Christian walk is that when we love someone, we pray for them. (III John 1:2) John’s prayers for Gaius were for his spiritual and physical prosperity. Following this is, to rejoice when our fellow brothers also being walking in truth. Walking in truth is all about a life of honesty where there is uniformity in our thoughts, words and actions. This is possible only when the truth dwells in us.
III John 1:5-8 - Hospitality means to receive strangers and treat them with love and care and Gaius received many who were travelling to a different place to spread the Gospel. All his actions towards strangers were motivated by love and genuine care. Isaiah 58:7,8 advises us to stretch forth our hand for the needy. When we love God, we show it in our deeds by receiving God’s children into our fold, we feed them and take care of them. Being kind to the fatherless, visiting orphans and being sensitive to the needs of widows in trouble is the pure and undefiled religion before God.
Love is not a noun, but a verb. It is not a feeling but a responsibility and to be kind to strangers does not require of us to be rich or prosperous. Sharing the little that we have is godlier. The poor widow loved God so much that she gave everything that she had. Note that offering something when we have everything is quite contrary to offering the little in our possession. This requires sacrifice and cheerful submission to God’s will. It is our Christian responsibility to provide hospitality to those who are spreading the Gospel (Matthew 10:9-15) When we open our doors for God’ servants, we must realize that it is to God Himself that we have invited (Matthew 25:34-40) and failing to take care of His children is considered as a failure to care for the Lord. (Hebrews 13:1&2) and as we practice hospitality with diligence (Romans: 12:13), our righteous God will surely reward us a hundred-fold.