3 John (NLT)
As we enter the New Year, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter.
1This letter is from John, the elder. I am writing to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I love in the truth.
Who is this Gaius? Other than that he is presented as a good example, it is hard to know. David Guzik tells us that Gaius was one of the most common names in the Roman Empire!
2 Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.
“Beloved, I wish above all things that you might prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).
How do prosperity and health come? By a prospering soul!
Regardless of Joseph’s circumstances (as a slave, in prison, as Pharaoh’s right-hand man), he kept trusting in God.
We, too, should prosper and be in health, because Christ REDEEMED our whole man—spirit, soul, and body.
Jesus said that He came to earth and died for us that “we might enjoy life, and have it in abundance until it overflows” (John 10:10).
It is up to us “to renew our minds” (Eph. 4:23) with the Word and to allow our mouths to SPEAK God’s Word, instead of all our problems and negativity.
“The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made” (Ps. 145:13).
–my friend LeLe Longsdorf
3 Some of the traveling teachers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. 4 I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.
Caring for the Lord’s Workers
Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”
Here we come to John’s main object in writing. A group of travelling missionaries is on its way to the church of which Gaius is a member, and John urges him to receive them, to give them every support and to send them on their way in a truly Christian manner.
In the ancient world hospitality was a sacred duty. Strangers were under the protection of Zeus Xenios, Zeus the god of strangers. In the ancient world inns were notoriously unsatisfactory, dirty and flea-infested. The ancient world had a system of guest-friendships whereby families in different parts of the country undertook to give each other’s members hospitality when the occasion arose. This connection between families lasted throughout the generations.
If the heathen world accepted the obligation of hospitality, it was only to be expected that the Christians would take it even more seriously. It is Peter’s injunction: “Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another” (1 Peter 4:9). “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” says the writer to the Hebrews, and adds: “for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). In the Pastoral Epistles a widow is to be honoured if she has “shown hospitality” (1 Timothy 5:9). Paul bids the Romans to “practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).
In the early church the Christian home was the place of the open door and the loving welcome. The Christian family circle should always be wide enough to have a place for the stranger, no matter where he comes from or what his colour.
from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers
“For His name’s sake they went forth” — 3 John 7
Our Lord has told us how love to Him is to manifest itself. “Lovest thou Me?” “Feed My sheep” — identify yourself with My interests in other people, not, identify Me with your interests in other people. The key to missionary devotion means being attached to nothing and no one saving Our Lord Himself. Loyalty to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of redemption wrought in me by the Holy Ghost, Who sheds abroad the love of God in my heart; that love works efficaciously through me in contact with everyone I meet.
9 I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us (obviously, a bad example). 10 When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.
11 Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.
Psalm 37:27 (NLT)
Turn from evil and do good,
and you will live in the land forever.
12 Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius (another good example), as does the truth itself. We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth.
13 I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. 14For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face. 15 Peace be with you.
Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there.
from the Life Application Bible:
“Whereas 2 John emphasizes the need to refuse hospitality to false teachers, 3 John urges continued hospitality to those who teach the truth. Hospitality is a strong sign of support for people and their work. It means giving them of your resources so their stay will be comfortable and their work and travel easier. Actively look for creative ways to show hospitality to God’s workers. It may be in the form of a letter of encouragement, a gift, financial support, an open home, or prayer.”
Four women have taught me much about hospitality:
1) My mother, Maurine Riskedahl, was a good cook and an interesting conversationalist. (I am grateful that I now have her good dishes—Haviland—that she bought with money from her first year teaching in Adel, Iowa, in 1942-3.) One of her wonderful hospitality traditions: Every year Mother put on a “Christmas Tea” at our house for my father’s co-workers and also for all the faculty and staff at our high school; she served seven different kinds of homemade Norwegian holiday delicacies along with a variety of other goodies. It was a lot of work but it was also a joy for her.
2) My aunt, Genevieve Wilson, made everything so pretty at her table and in her home. Even as a young widow with a daughter, living very frugally, she still supported a missions child overseas. Later in her life she opened her home to visiting missionaries from around the world and cheerfully, generously, supported them. She was another excellent cook; you never arrived at her house without soon having a spread before you of homemade muffins, cookies, bars, breads!
3) My friend Sue Awes articulated what Mother and Aunt Gen did but never expressed so clearly — that hospitality is a gift from the heart. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should show tender, loving care, with your own creative touch! Some years ago I was on a mission trip with Sue, and I will never forget watching her teach, so joyfully, a group of older Russian orphan girls the basics of gracious hospitality (a piece of fruit in a colorful bowl on the table, a flower in a pretty bottle at the bedside . . . ). Sitting with Sue around a table always brought up the most stimulating conversations, for she shared her heart with you.
4) My friend Linda Wallace makes hospitality seem simple and fun, as if you are doing her a favor by being her guest! Her warm and unpretentious ease when making you feel at home is pure elegance, pure grace. And I must mention her delicious bran muffins and lemon-filled creme puffs! To be Linda’s guest is truly to be given a foretaste of things to come above!
Who has taught you? Who are you teaching? Do it as unto the Lord, as these four women have!
HERE in this song, “Remembrance (Communion Song)” by Matt Redman, my favorite line is “Now the simple made divine” — for that is the transforming power of Christian hospitality.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.