I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. — 3 John 4
Every Friday, a group of men from my church get up early (earlier for some than others!) to have coffee at a local coffee shop and talk about a portion of scripture. My pastor, Scott Friesen, is there to guide the discussion, but it is by far from a one-man show. There have many fruitful times of mining the word together, finding what is there and discovering other things we may have missed. It is a blessing to be with a group of men who have a love for the Word.
This Friday we looked at 3 John together. It is such a small book that it may seem obvious what is there and maybe not be a ripe field for harvesting. However, we had rich discussion about things like showing hospitality to workers in the word, the danger of false teachers within the church and the desiribility of a good reputation as a believer.
Concerning the verse above, we talked about how rewarding it is to see your children do well. For most of the men, this was a concept easy to grasp since we all know about the love a father has for his children. Looking at this verse, you have to ask, “What is the truth that John is speaking about?” In this little book John talks about the truth often. To Gaius, he is commending him for walking in it and showing hospitality to those who are “workers in the truth.”
We talked about this for some length. This letter follows up two others from John warning the church to avoid false teachers. It is here in this letter as well. The truth, I believe, is the teachings that have come down from the apostles. Ultimately, it is Jesus Christ and all that he is. This is in direct contrast to the attitude in this day and age that makes truth something fuzzy and vague. This says that doctrine matters and that it brings great joy to John to know that these people are walking in a way that honors that teaching.
So, John takes great joy from this. He says this brings him “no greater joy.” He is not a mercenery, looking to gain monetarily from people’s faith. Later, he condemns Diotrephes, who appears to have put himself before the truth. It is clear that John is concerned with how people think about this truth. It’s not that they live a good life and do good things. Those things may happen, but without walking in the truth they are empty.
We talked about verse 11: Beloved, do no imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Now, without looking at the Word, we could make up what that means and maybe satisfy ourselves that we are followers of Christ. But John also wrote in 2 John 1:9: Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
I am left with the feeling that my relationship with God depends on how much time I want to spend knowing what he has said. It is my prayer that I abide — dwell, live — in the teaching of Christ, which is the Bible.