To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth …
It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
(verses 1, 3-4)
Truth. Once again. We saw it yesterday in 2 John. Now we see it here in 3 John, this time in the life of John’s friend Gaius. Truth is on John’s mind. Right-thinking, integrity, faithfulness – and all of it encompassed in relationship with Jesus, the One who is himself the Truth.
Clearly John is rejoicing that Gaius – his friend, but also his disciple (one of “my children,” he says) – is walking in the ways of Jesus. He says so. “It gave me great joy,” he says. “I have no greater joy.”
When my own kids express faith in Jesus, it sparks joy for my heart, too. Over the years, it’s come out in different ways at different times – a decision to get baptized, or a Scriptural insight expressed at a meal, or heading off to assist at summer camp, or serving on a worship team, or making hard choices that express discipleship, or simple sincere prayers that touch my heart.
And, as with my own life, there are moments of up and down. I know, as a parent, I can’t force their hand, let along their heart. So, the sightings of Jesus in their lives come as a great gift – like John says, it sparks “great joy.”
So, too, in the community of faith. What joy when someone who has recently come to know Jesus takes a further step of faith, making decisions of obedience, expressing devotion to the Lord, or sacrificing to serve another. To see someone “walk in the truth,” clear and true, is joy indeed.
But think of all this, for a moment, from the other point of view. Consider Gaius’ perspective. How must he have felt to know that the “beloved disciple,” John himself, was rejoicing over his life? What must it have been like to know his life was bringing joy to an Apostle? How good to have this letter in hand and to know he had warmed John’s heart. What encouragement. Clearly Gaius was a man committed to honouring Jesus, one who was eager to walk in the truth. Yet, he, like us, must have had his ups and downs. He would have known his own imperfections and struggles, even in the midst of seeking to follow his Lord. So, John’s words of joy and affirmation would have gone right to his heart – they would have “strengthened his hand in God” (as 1 Samuel 23:16 says Jonathan did for David).
The lesson here for me is that as we seek to walk in truth – to know and follow Jesus – we need each other. John, aged Apostle though he was, indeed “beloved disciple,” was strengthened with new joy through the life of his dear friend Gaius. So, too, Gaius found himself strengthened by the joyful encouragement John passed along.
May that mutual encouragement overflow in our own experience as we walk together in truth.
Lord, help me, like Gaius, to walk in your truth. May joy come to others. May I be strengthened through them. All to your glory. Amen.
In whose life recently have you seen the clear working of Jesus? Rejoice in what the Lord has done. Give thanks. Share the encouragement with them.
Photo by Brian Mann on Unsplash