(Eighth in a Series)
This edifying series of chapel talks comes from the archives of our Spokesman Assistant Editor, Prof. Em. Paul R. Koch • Eau Claire, Wis. “The Elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth: Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth. I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true. I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.” (III John)
Fellow saints, called in Christ Jesus to be sanctified and glorified:
Today we are skipping ahead to a late chapter in God’s Book, to the third epistle of John the Evangelist. We have met a number of obscure saints in our travels and have learned that many New Testament books were written to obscure saints. Today’s thoughts are going to be based on an entire Epistle of the New Testament, so short it could be memorized in an hour or two. Who is the obscure saint so highly thought of that God caused the Apostle John to address him personally with this inspired message? His name is Gaius: “To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth,” and the letter is called the Third Epistle of John. As we read the sacred text, we remind ourselves to ask pertinent questions, and then search for the answers—so that the Word may become profitable to us, as our Lord intends. What is the specific message here? Why is it important to know? What area of my Christian life is my Lord concerned about in these words—“I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Let me repeat that: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Among all the joys of being an apostle and pastor and evangelist, John says that up at the top of the list is that Gaius and others had found their hearts and lives to be grounded in the Truth, which is Jesus and Jesus’ Word. That means they were not only children of God but were children of God who were orthodox both in word and deed. Gaius is praised for being faithful to the Truth and for having a life-style that was faith-oriented. This pleased John, and it pleased Jesus. God’s children are inner motivated to tell God that they love Him; they are pulled to warmly embrace God in their hearts, to humbly adore Him, and to serve Him. We call it Christian sanctification.
How, then, did this obscure saint put into practice his up-welling desire to bring to God his heart’s love and devotion?
We can deduce much from what John had heard about Gaius: “You are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We therefore ought to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.” (NIV) Gaius had opened his home and probably his bank account to serve traveling evangelists. They in turn reported how kindly Gaius has treated them, and now John wanted Gaius to hear the good impression he had made and how much it had meant to those missionaries to have him for a friend. Good old Gaius! Though not a clergyman and probably not gifted with facile speech but with personality traits on the quiet side, he was like many other obscure saints. God made him a Christian gentleman with a soft heart, so generous that he blossomed when someone needed his help. He was full of the warmth of love for his brethren. Gaius supported the spokesmen of God with his prayers and his dollars and his home. We are blessed with such saints in our congregations, and we know many of them by name.
The rest of the letter goes quickly, and we skip the two verses where John laments another fellow who was the opposite of our friend Gaius.
Then comes the short admonition: “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good” —then comes testimony about another obscure saint who was actively living his religion; then a personal comment, “I hope to see you shortly and we shall speak face to face”; and then the letter closes with, “Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.”
How comforting to know that Christians scattered across the miles and in foreign countries find one another! Away from home, our missionaries discover that God’s children open their homes to their brothers and sisters. Love like that is precious; it deserves to be cultivated and nurtured.
How comforting to know that Christians scattered across the miles and in foreign countries find one another! Away from home, our missionaries discover that God’s children open their homes to their brothers and sisters. Love like that is precious; it deserves to be cultivated and nurtured. We understand this, for it is God who opens hearts with His love and keeps them open to love one another. Let us join in prayer: “Lord Jesus, You who have so deeply and greatly loved us, opening to us Your home and making it our home, please give us an ever-growing desire to serve one another with such love; give us grace to become stronger and more consistent in exercising the love that really counts unto eternity. To Your glory, as always! Amen.” We close these moments of devotion with Hymn 540 (TLH).