For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. – 3 John 3
In the third epistle of John, a personal letter written to on the Gaius, this verse stands out to me. John is commending Gaius for walking in the truth, a walk that was clearly evident to other believers, for they went and reported such back to John.
John is going to enlist the aid of Gaius in the local church that Gaius attends, asking for his help in condemning the actions of one man, Diotrephes, while commending the actions of another, Demetrius. The help John is asking for, the support he wants for Demetrius requires a strong Christian who is well-respected and beloved by others in the local body of Christ (John calls Gaius beloved in verses 2, 5 and 11, and each time the Greek word for love is agape love, that higher form of selfless love, the kind of love the Lord has for us. The kind of love that led to Christ coming to earth to die on the Cross for us).
There is strength in truth, the type of strength that can stand up to false teachings, malicious gossip and slander, and actions designed to disrupt and destroy the unity within the body of Christ. Walking in the truth is a joy and encouragement for other believers to behold, it is pleasing to the Lord for it shows obedience to His will and the building up of the saints in the body.
Walking in the truth is for every believer to engage in, but we all do it to varying degrees of faithfulness and effectiveness, and none of us do it flawlessly or even consistently. Christ is the model of perfection of walking in the truth, we can all seek to emulate Him, but we will fall short until the day He calls us home.
But nevertheless, there is great joy in the trying personally, and great comfort and encouragement for others in the observing and hopefully, imitating. And we ask not that others imitate us, but Christ as the only one worth patterning a faith-walk in truth after.
The situation in the local church that John was addressing to Gaius were quite bad. Diotrephes was apparently guilty of much wrong-doing within that local body:
- Placing himself before or above others
- Rejecting and speaking against the teaching of truth
- Accusing others unjustly and maliciously slandering them
- Not extending Christian fellowship and hospitality to visitors and strangers
- Seeking to prevent others from extending that hospitality
- Seeking to put outside the fellowship of the local body those seeking to that hospitality
And if as believed that Diotrephes was in a leadership position himself, these actions are all the more grievous for they would tend to lead others astray in their actions and behaviors:
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. – James 3:1
Walking in the truth, extending Christian hospitality and encouragement within the local body, and to visitors and strangers as well is for all Christians, not just leaders:
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. – Hebrews 13:2
We never know who it is we are extending comfort, encouragement and just plain Christian hospitality to. That fact holds for any of us, that fact holds for every one of us. The blessings and benefits of walking in truth are:
- Clear to other believers
- Testified to by the truth (the Word of God) itself
- Encouraging to others to walk in the truth themselves
Advice for leaders sure, but advice for all.
Walk in the truth, do it today. Because…
Jesus is coming soon!