By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: Third John 1.9-11
Note to the Reader
This week, we continue our examination of Third John, as such I encourage you to invest additional time reading the Epistle of Third John in conjunction with this article.
The Reality of Goodness
Sometimes for some people choosing to do good is very difficult. Sometimes for some Christians choosing to do good is very difficult. When the situation is kind, gentle, friendly and agreeable doing good is fairly easy. When the situation is unkind, harsh, unfriendly and disagreeable doing good is a real challenge. In an unfavorable situation, doing good requires much.
The Reality of Life
Not everything in life is fair. Not everything in life is good. Not everything in life is bad nor is everything in life unfair. But having to experience the unfairness and the nongoodness really helps us to fully appreciate the good and the fair.
Sometimes life feels like a combat zone, always fighting and fallout. There are times when we get some Rest and Recuperation, but it can seem that those times are few and far between. However, when we experience these situations, how good does it feel to receive kindness and goodness from another? If we are wounded emotionally, how good does it feel to have someone who cares? If we were wounded in our self-worth, how good does it feel to have someone encourage us? If we were wounded financially, how good does it feel to have someone help us? Those who help us did something good, and they did it for us, helping us.
When a child hurts themselves, who is the first to help them? Generally, it is the child’s mother. Not that the child’s father does not help, the father generally lends more help to the adult child, through advice and such. Anyway, to the point, the mother saw her child in need and did good by helping her child. Likewise, a father who sees his child in need does good when he helps his child. It is natural to do good for our children; it is natural to do good for our family. But there are times that doing good for our family is a real challenge, just imagine the challenge of doing good for those who are not family.
The Realty of Discipleship
The beauty of the goodness evidenced in disciples has the ability to bring tears and joy. True goodness that comes from the children of God is amazing; but that is not always the case. Consider Diotrephes from Third John. He was a disciple, yet was not doing good. John states that Diotrephes was using words that tear down other disciples; if his words were not enough, he refused to associate with the brethren, and worse than, that he expected brethren to have the same refusal of brethren; worse yet, if they refused to do what Diotrephes said, he threw them out of the church.1 Diotrephes was more than just bad news; he was doing bad things. But on the other hand, there was Gaius.
John encouraged Gaius to remain good and to do good. But in order for Gaius to remain good, he had to turn away from and not follow the bad example of Diotrephes. Consider the words of John from the TNIV, “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”2 John is very clear in his statement. While John did not use Diotrephes’ name, there is no doubt that John was referring to Diotreophes.
While John’s statement was a clear indictment against Diotrephes, hearing the translation of The Message is powerful. Here is the The Message, “Friend, don’t go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God’s work. The person who does evil falsifies God, doesn’t know the first thing about God.”3 Truth. Power. Truly Powerful.
Based on the previous statement, there are several things a good disciple does in order to do good. One, a disciple cannot go along with, as to be in company with, evil. Two, a disciple is to be a model, an example, of good. Three, the disciple who does good is doing God’s work: being an example of good, speaking good of other disciples, accepting disciples and helping disciples (this is the context of Third John). Four, the disciple who does not do good, per John, does not know the first thing about God and in so doing is doing evil which nullifies the very essence of God, because God is good.
John’s letter to Gaius is powerful. It is a powerful testimony of Gaius and his good deeds. It is also a powerful testimony of Diotrophes and his bad deeds. Sometimes, we discuss which Apostle we would like to have as a role model, and this has its place, but consider that if a church leader was to label us, which disciple are we more like: Diotrophes or Gaius? May we all be like Gaius. May the LORD bless us as we seek to do good.