Read 3 John 1:5-8 (ESV)
Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
How was Gaius a positive role model for others in the church? What did John specifically commend him for?
There are role models all around us. Some of them are positive role models and show us what to do. Others are negative role models and show us what not to do. In John’s third letter, he made an example of three members of a local church. Two were commended for their walking in the truth. The other was called out and condemned for his selfishness and dissension.
John addressed his letter to one of the positive role models, Gaius. John wrote this letter from Ephesus around 90 A.D., about the same time that he wrote 1 and 2 John. Fellowship is a common theme found in all 3 of John’s epistles. 1 John focused on how we can enjoy fellowship with God. In 2 John, he warned against fellowship with false teachers. In 3 John, he encouraged Christian fellowship among believers.
It was this Christian fellowship and hospitality that John commended Gaius for. In today’s verses, we read that Gaius had been faithful to welcome and support missionaries that had “gone out for the sake of the name” (3 John 1:7) These missionaries were faithfully preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and Gaius was demonstrating the love that Christians should have for one another by supporting their missionary journeys. By doing this, he was considered “a fellow worker for the truth.”
But John quickly switched gears from commending Gaius to calling out Diotrephes in 3 John 1:9-10. Instead of humbly practicing hospitality and generosity like Gaius, Diotrephes selfishly “put himself first” and refused to welcome missionaries. He even went so far as to throw other believers out of the church that tried to welcome them. Not only that, but he refused to submit to the God-given authority of the apostles and slandered them.
Should we aspire to emulate Gaius or Diotrephes? Well, if the answer isn’t already apparent, John wrote: “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God” (3 John 1:11). We should want to be known for our good works rather than infamous for our evil deeds. We have been called to love one another as Christ has loved us (John 13:34). Gaius understood the assignment.
John concluded the letter with one last commendation. Demetrius, who is believed to have been John’s courier of this letter, is commended by John as someone who had “received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself” (3 John 1:12). John’s words about Demetrius demonstrate that Demetrius was someone who walked in the truth—he put God’s Word into practice in his life.
In John’s introduction he wrote that other believers had testified to him that Gaius was walking in the truth: “For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:3). But at the end of his letter, John testified to Gaius that Demetrius was walking in the truth as well. You see, our actions either earn us a recommendation to others that we are trustworthy or a warning to others that we are not.
Friends, in a social media world, we have access to role models like never before. We have to make a choice as to who we look up to and what we imitate. We should only want to be like those who are doing good and walking in the truth. But we also have to realize that we are likely role models for someone else. Let's all take some time today to reflect on this. What are we modeling to those around us? If John were to write a testimony about our behavior, would we receive a commendation or a calling out?
Lord, thank You for providing so many examples for me to learn from. Help me to be discerning in choosing role models. I want to imitate good behavior and reject what is evil. I want my reputation to be like Gaius and Demetrius—faithful to Your truth and hospitable in love for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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