“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” (3 John 4)
John the apostle had a powerful love for the churches under his care. He may have been a Son of Thunder, but he was also the beloved disciple, the one closest to Jesus when He gave the new commandment, “Love one another, even as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)
Walking in Truth
John’s third epistle is a personal letter to a man named Gaius. John prays for Gaius, that he would prosper – just as his soul prospers. (verse 2)
We want to prosper, don’t we? We want to get a job, and make money. We want to know that we’ll wake up when we go to sleep, and that we won’t die when our parents let the younger sibling drive.
But John speaks of a different kind of prosperity.
“For I was very glad when brethren came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth.” (3 John 3)
That’s the point of the entire letter – walking in truth. An alignment of heart and life with the truth of God’s word and His character. Loving others; keeping the commandments.
Two Names that Start with D
And then John introduces us to two men: Diotrephes and Demetrius.
Diotrephes is not on John’s list of best friends. In fact, he calls him out.
“I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so, and puts them out of the church.” (3 John 9-10)
Diotrephes wasn’t just insulting John – he was harming the church as well. And John, with his love and care for God’s people, could not let that go unnoticed.
“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.” (11)
But then John draws a contrast. Don’t imitate people like Diotrephes, he says. No, imitate what is good – people like Demetrius.
“Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself.” (12)
Unlike Diotrephes, Demetrius walked in truth. He loved the church; he lived according to God’s commands.
Living in the Truth
The common denominator of 3 John is “Truth.” Gaius walked in truth. Demetrius “received a good testimony… from the truth.” Diotrephes most emphatically did not walk in the truth – in fact, he rejected the truth that came to him from John and the other apostles.
What about us? We might ask if we’re walking in truth; if we’re living according to God’s commands. Do I love my brothers “in deed and truth”? Are long car rides defined by patience, or pride? At work, am I known for my integrity and care for others?
And those are good questions to ask. But the question we can’t neglect – once we’ve answered honestly that we’re still far from where we ought to be – is whether the truth is in us.
Is God’s word our first priority every day? Whether it’s in the morning, afternoon, or evening, are we reading it? Are we studying it, digging deep into its meaning? Are we memorizing it, so we can keep it with us no matter where we go?
This is the only way we can live according to God’s commands: by cultivating a deeper love for him by beholding Him in His word.
Will you live a life saturated with the truth?
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