Summary: This is our second in a series I call Short and Sweet As we look at some of the often forgotten short books in the N.T. It looks at the need for hospitality in today’s world

Christian Hospitality

III John

You may be wondering why I chose 3 John this morning

Why not start with 1 John?

Well I have been known to buck the system

Go against the flow, do things a little differently

No, actually I choose 3 John next because it is similar in a way to Philemon that we studied last week

This is our second in a series I call Short and Sweet

As we look at some of the often forgotten short books in the N.T.

3 John, like Philemon, is a personal letter

It is addressed in v 1 to Gaius

“the well beloved Gaius whom I love in the truth”

And while Philemon taught us about forgiveness and how in one way it can promote unity in the church

And encourage others in the faith

This letter gives us an important glimpse into the life of the early church

Third John is about the need for showing hospitality to traveling preachers and other believers

And it also warns against a would-be church dictator

Third John is the most personal of John’s 3 epistles

It, along with 2 John, is the shortest book in the Bible

But it offers a stark contrast between two men who respond in opposite ways to the teachers who have been sent out by the apostle

The faithful Gaius responds with generosity and hospitality

But the faithless Diotrephes responds with arrogance and opposition

Thus John, that is John of the 12 apostles, writes to commend Gaius for walking in the truth

And to condemn Diotrephes for walking in error

I. Commendation regarding Christian hospitality


Read 1-8

At special invitation or with a surprise knock company arrives

And with them comes the promise of soiled floors, extra laundry, dirty dishes, altered schedules, personal expense, and inconvenience

From sharing a meal to providing a bed, hospitality costs

In time, energy and money

But how we treat others reflects our true values

What is really important to us

Do we see people as objects or inconveniences

Or as unique creations of a loving God?

And which is more important to God

A person or a carpet?

Perhaps the most effective way to demonstrate God’s values and Christ’s love to others is to invite and welcome guests into our homes

I can’t help but think of the movie Christmas Vacation

The Griswalds are having Christmas at their home this year

That means everybody will intrude in a way on their celebration

Everyone including cousin Eddie

With his humungous dog, heathen children and smelly motor home

They are all “welcomed” into their home

But some are more welcome then others

Hospitality isn’t what it used to be

We don’t have company over like we used to, do we?

It used to be that people came and went to others homes very often

Getting together on a regular basis

But in today’s society we don’t feel as comfortable with that concept

Home is a sanctuary, where we can let our hair down

Prop our feet up, and escape from this busy world

As Christians we need to learn a lesson from good old Gaius

He developed a reputation for being very hospitable

Gaius was a fine Christian man

John’s statement “when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee”

He indicates that Christians continually praised Gaius’ exemplary obedience to the fundamentals of the faith

His spiritual reputation was well known

Jayna gives me a hard time sometimes when I am talking about somebody and I say

“He seems like a good guy”

We all want to be known as “a good guy” or a “good ole boy”

We want our kids to be known as “good kids”

But it is so much more important to be known as a spiritual guy

If I were to ask you to think of someone you would consider a “good guy” you probably pictures someone fairly easily

I’m thinking of someone myself

He is well liked, everybody who knows him likes him

He is fun to be around, has a good family, can carry on interesting conversations

He is a good guy

Now I ask you to think of a “spiritual man”

Are you picturing someone different?

You see, that’s a horse of a different color isn’t it?

Now I’m thinking of someone like my grandpa, who has gone on to be with the Lord

Or maybe Dr Jesse Thomas, at CBC

Maybe Billy Graham, or even someone from here that has passed on

To be labeled a good guy is okay

But to be labeled a spiritual man is GREAT

There won’t be any good ole boys in heaven

John said Gaius “ thou walkest in the truth”

Gaius’ walk matched his talk

His reputation for practicing what he preached was exemplary

John’s commendation of him is one of the greatest given in the N.T

Since the commendation centers not only in the fact that he knew the truth

But that he faithfully practiced it

And this tremendous spiritual lifestyle of Gaius was uplifting to John

John said in v 4 “I have no greater joy”

John’s personal affection for Gaius radiated especially from his personal conduct

He uses the words “my children”

John’s heart delighted in the proper conduct of his spiritual children in the faith

Those who walk, which is your conduct, in the truth, which is your beliefs, have integrity

There is no separation between professing and living

John goes on to say in v 5 you are acting faithfully

Genuine faith always produces genuine good works

Gaius’ famous hospitality and generosity stemmed from his strong spiritual stance

He practiced hospitality not only towards those whom he knew

But also to those whom he did not know

Me and my family experienced this when we first came here

We felt welcome the moment we walked in the door

You invited us, complete strangers, into your homes

You took us to lunch and your generosity was on full display

That is what a true church does

Shows hospitality and generosity to others

There was a guy who died and was being given a tour of heaven and he saw a friend of his drive by in a beautiful Mercedes.

He said, "Boy, this is great!" "Oh, yes," St. Peter said, "your friend was really generous on earth, we had a lot to work with.

Your transportation up here depends on your generosity down there."

Then Peter gave him his transportation:

A Honda motor scooter.

He said, "Wait a minute, he gets a Mercedes, I get a scooter?"

"That’s right, it’s all we had to work with."

The guy drove off in a huff.

A week later Peter saw this guy all smiles and said,

"You feeling better now?"

The guy said, "Yea, I have ever since I saw my preacher go by on a skate board!"

John specifically talks about how Gaius showed generosity to traveling preachers

In the church’s early days, traveling prophets, evangelists and teachers were helped on their way by people like Gaius who housed and fed them

Hospitality is a lost art in many churches today

We would do well to invite more people for meals

Fellow church members, young people, traveling missionaries, those in need, visitors

This is an active and much appreciated way to show your love

In fact, it is probably more important today

Because of our individualistic, self-centered society

There are many lonely people who wonder of anyone cares whether they live or die

If you find such a lonely person

Show him or her that you care!

Often times we are like the children on the Candid Camera episode

Years ago on Candid Camera, children were used in an experiment about generosity.

The children were placed by themselves in a room with a plate of cookies.

On the plate were at least two cookies, there may have been more, but one of the cookies was very large.

The adult left the room and the kids were allowed to take a cookie.

You know, they all took the big one.

One boy was challenged as to why he took the biggest cookie.

Alan Funt, the host, told the boy

“All you left me to eat was the little cookie.

I would have eaten the little cookie and given you the biggest one.”

Without a blink the boy responded

“Then you got the one you wanted.”

Generosity is a tough thing to learn.

We should put others first

In verses 7+8 John gives several grounds for practicing hospitality as it says in verse 6 “after a godly sort”

Or in a “manner worthy of God”

First one must show hospitality to those who have pure motives

These missionaries went out for the sake of the name

They must be doing their ministry for God’s glory not their own

Secondly one must show hospitality to those who are not in ministry for money

Since they were “taking nothing of the Gentiles”

The church was their only means of support

Third, those who show hospitality participate in the ministries of those to whom hospitality is shown

Those who extend hospitality share in the deeds of those receiving it

So in showing hospitality towards a minister

You have the opportunity to take part in their mission

And God will bless you for it

Showing hospitality and generosity towards other leads to rewards

Matthew 10:42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.

How much we love God can be measured by how well we treat others

Jesus’ example of giving a cup of cold water to a thirsty child is a good model of unselfish service

A child usually can’t or won’t return a favor

God notices every good deed we do or don’t do as if He were the one receiving it

Is there something unselfish you can do for someone else today?

Although no one else may see you, God will notice

II. Condemnation regarding violating Christian hospitality (9-11)

In verse 9 we are introduced to Diotrephes

A prideful, power hungry man wanting to control the church

John refers to a previous letter he had wrote

Not 1 or 2 John but one that no longer exists

Perhaps Diotrephes never read to the church because he rejected John’s authority

Diotrephes had possibly intercepted this letter, opened it and burned it before anyone else could read it

I’ve heard of a pastor who would open letters addressed to others in the church, like a youth pastor for instance

Read them and them either completely disregard them

Or at most, tell the recipient of its contents, possibly leaving out specific details

These are signs of a dictator, like Diotrephes

Yearning for complete control of every aspect of the church

John here condemns the violation of hospitality towards faithful ministers of the Word

The word preeminence which could be better translated first

He wanted to be first, #1, top dog

This conveys the idea of someone who is selfish, self-centered and self-seeking

The language suggests a self-promoting demagogue

Who served no one, but wanted all to serve only him

Reminds me of someone running for president?

Diotrephes’ actions directly contradict Jesus’ and the N.T. teaching on servant-leadership in the church

Diotrephes modeled the opposite of kindness and hospitality to God’s servants

Even denying John’s authority over the local congregation

And as a result, denying the revelation of God that came through his authority

His character was the very opposite of the gentle and loving Gaius

Who readily showed hospitality

He is, in essence, showing us what not to do

And John actually indicates that he might make a visit in order to point out Diotrephes’ misdeeds

Diotrephes had to answer or his behavior

John denounced

His refusal to have anything to do with other spiritual leaders

His slander of the leaders

His bad example in refusing to welcome any Gospel teachers and

His attempt to excommunicate those who opposed his leadership

All of this boiled down to one sin

The sin of pride

A Baptist was visiting Rome and decided to tour the Vatican while he was there.

Standing outside St. Peter’s Basilica, he noticed a long line of people stretching from the courtyard into the church doors.

So he asked on of them what the line was for.

A woman in line told him they were waiting to see a priest for the sacrament of reconciliation.

The Baptist asked what that was, and the woman explained that they would kneel down in a small darkened booth, confess their sins to a priest who was behind a partition, and the priest would then grant them absolution from God, forgiving their sins.

It sounded interesting, so he got in line.

Two-and-a-half hours later, he was finally at the front of the line.

He entered the confessional, a short while later he came out smiling and said

“This is great! My sins are all wiped away!

I’m as pure as the day I was born!

Totally sin-free!”

Another priest nearby heard him and said, “Pride! Get back in line.”

Sin such as pride, jealousy and slander are still present in the church

And when a leader makes a habit of encouraging sin and discouraging right actions, he must be stopped

If no one speaks up

Great harm can come to the church

We must confront sin in the church

If we try to avoid it

It will continue to grow

A true Christian leader is a servant, not an autocrat

As John continues into our third section

III. Conclusion regarding Christian Hospitality


He makes the statement “follow not that which is evil, but that which is good”

Do not imitate what is evil, but what is good

This verse begins the introduction to the commendation of our third character in this letter Demetrius

Gaius was to imitate Demetrius as the correct role model for his actions

When John says in v 11 “he that doeth good is of God; but he that doeth evil hath not seen God”

He is indicating that Diotrephes’ actions proved that he was never a Christian

Diotrephes didn’t pass the love test

I John 5:1-2

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Messiah is a child of God; and whoever loves a father loves his child also. This is how we know that we love God’s children: it is by loving God and obeying His commands. For our love for God means that we obey His commands

We know nothing of Demetrius except that he may have carried this letter from John to Gaius

In contrast to the corrupt Diotrephes, Demetrius had a high regard for truth

John personified truth as a witness to Demetrius’ character and teaching

In other words, if truth could speak, it would speak of Demetrius’ behalf

Third John urges continued hospitality to those who teach the truth

Hospitality is a strong sign of support for people and their work

Actively look for creative ways to show hospitality to God’s workers and to others within this church and community

It may be in the form of a letter of encouragement

A gift

Financial support

An open home

Or a prater

Christian hospitality can be seen as an oxymoron

Contradictory terms

Kind of like

Jumbo shrimp

Silent alarm

Pretty ugly

Original copy

Definite possibility

Act naturally

It should become known as redundant like these

Advance reservations (what other kind are there)

Armed gunman (if he is a gunman, we should realize he is armed)

Difficult dilemma (are there non-difficult dilemmas?)

Unexpected surprise (what other kind of surprise in there)

Christian and Hospitality should go hand in hand

Our generosity should be famous like Gaius’ was

I pray us as a church can be known for our hospitality and generosity