You can listen to the podcast here.
Last week we began our journey into this short letter. This letter was not his last writing, but it’s still a very important message. We saw it was written to a man named Gaius whom John praised for being spiritually healthy. How did John come to that conclusion? Gaius was walking in truth. This morning we’ll see some additional insights as to why Gaius is so beloved by John.
3 John 5-8 says, “Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren, and especially when they are strangers; and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth.”
John offers more praise to Gaius. This is so significant. John tells Gaius, “You are acting faithfully.” Again this is present tense so it’s not what Gaius used to do. It can be very discouraging to hear people say what they used to do. I used to tell people about Jesus, I used to read my Bible, I used to pray, I used to go to church. I often wonder why people stop. Is there some tragic even that draws a person to Christ and then when Christ does what is asked of Him, they go back to the way it was? What leads a person to quit on God? Sometimes it’s because God seems distant; sometimes we convince ourselves that it doesn’t work; sometimes we think God doesn’t care. Sometimes there is no answer. What do you do when those doubts or those fears invade your brain? What do you do when discouragement and disappointment reign in your life? Do what Gaius did – he walked in truth. Combat the doubt that creeps into your mind with the truth found in God’s Word.
Not only was Gaius walking in truth John told him, “You are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brethren and especially when they are strangers.” We can break this down pretty easily. In the context of this letter, the “whatever” relates to the hospitality Gaius showed to other Christians – especially strangers. This isn’t very difficult to understand. Hospitality is a very important characteristic to have. Some Christians are particularly gifted in this area, but that doesn’t negate the responsibility for all Christians to act in a hospitable manner. If you look at hospitality in the O.T., it was not only a part of the culture, it was a demonstration of faithfulness to God. Job 31:32, “The alien has not lodged outside, for I have opened my doors to the traveler.” Is. 58:7, “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?” In Gen. 18 we see Abraham meeting three strangers while in Mamre. He saw to it that their feet were washed, that they had a place to rest, and he literally fed them the choicest calf. If you continue reading in Gen. 18, you’ll see this is the time when Sarah laughed because she overheard one of the strangers tell Abraham that she would have a son at the same time next year – the birth of Isaac; the son of promise.
In the N.T., hospitality is no less important. Gal. 6:10, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” In Rom. 12:13 Paul told the church to, “Practice hospitality.” Heb. 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Gaius was a hospitable man. He acted faithfully. He took care of the brethren, especially the strangers.
How do we know? According to v. 6 these strangers, “have testified to your love before the church.” John and Gaius were not in the same location. The people that Gaius took care of likely were sent by John’s church. Church here is the Greek word ekklesia. You may have heard that word used before. The word was around for several hundred years prior to the Christian era. Before Christ it meant an assembly of people with a well defined membership. It was typically associated with a socio-political entity based on citizenship of a city or state. In the context of 3 John, it is a specific local assembly of people that trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. This is the local place where John met for fellowship, for corporate prayer, for teaching – for worship. Although strangers to Gaius, these travelers were not strangers to John or the church. When they returned, they gave a report, they testified, they gave evidence of Gaius’ love for them. His love was demonstrated by opening up his home to people he did not know. He took care of these traveling evangelists. He opened up his home; fed them, made sure they had everything they needed; Gaius’ attitude was my home is your home. So these evangelists go back to the church and relate all that happened on their trip, just as we did when we returned from Romania. We told you how we were taken care of by Matthew. How we were taken care of by the families we stayed with, how they opened their homes to us, took care of us, washed our clothes, fed us, made sure we had everything we needed. Our Romanian friends, just like Gaius, made it possible for us to accomplish God’s work.
Fast forward to today and you might think, “Well I don’t have a chance to demonstrate that kind of faithfulness.” Pastor Ben Cloud of Amadeo Church in Higley, AZ says “Before asking someone to church, invite him or her into your home.” The application of hospitality is a broad one. Host a get together at your house. Invite your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers. Host a Community Group, a Bible study, a prayer group. Have someone over to your house for coffee or tea. Some are going to say my house isn’t nice enough, I don’t have time, it’s too much work, my house isn’t clean. You’re going to make some excuse to yourself why you cannot do something rather than just doing it. I believe Gaius was always ready to have people in his home and I assure you, his house was not nearly as nice as your house. His house was most likely made of volcanic rock. It probably had a dirt floor or at best, a wooden floor. Guests may have had a wooden framed bed to sleep on, but most likely slept on the floor with mats they carried with them. We could compare it to primitive camping.
It is not the house, but what makes it a home that provides a welcoming, warm, and inviting atmosphere. I think that’s what Gaius had going on; he had a desire to make people – even strangers – feel welcome in his home. We should have the same desire. If you think your house is dirty – clean it. If you think your house is messy – pick it up. Most people don’t care so much about the house, but who is inside it and how they feel when they are there. In the last part of v. 6 John says, “You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God.” “Will do well” is in the future tense. John conveys the confidence in what Gaius is doing and will continue to do for evangelists. These evangelists were on a mission from God. It was a gospel mission – a good news mission – the good news that is found in Jesus Christ – the truth that John is so faithful to. Doing this, “in a manner that is worthy of God” is the only way to do it. “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” (Col. 3:23)
Here’s a great reason and a great reminder. The reason John says to do this is because, “They went out for the sake of the Name accepting nothing from the Gentiles.” It is the name of Jesus Christ. He is the One and only way. The only reason they went out was to proclaim the truth that is found in Christ. There is power in the name of Christ. Phil 2:9-11, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” It was a singular mission; it was a powerful mission and they accepted, “nothing from the Gentiles.” This is really interesting. If you’re thinking, “Hey I’m a Gentile so none of this applies to me.” Nice try, in this context, Gentile means unbelieving, it means non-Christian. The evangelists relied on God’s provision through the gifts and generosity of God’s people.
Remember in John’s second letter he told us not to entertain false teachers? If we give false teachers a platform for their deception, we’d be guilty by association. Here John tells us the exact opposite. “Therefore we ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth,” When we exercise our generosity, our support, and our gifts we become fellow workers with the truth. We are participants. Not everyone can do everything. Not everyone can go, but all of us can participate in God’s work through our hospitality and our generosity. This support is something all Christians can do.
No matter your status according to the world, you can be an active participant in spreading God’s truth. Not only should we do this, we must do this. It is our duty, our responsibility, our privilege.