December 12th – Les Kovacs 2 John 1, 3 John 1
Observe: In the 2nd letter of John, the Elder writes to a church that he is filled with joy to hear that they are walking in truth as the Father commanded. He encourages them to continue in one command that they were told in the beginning, which was to love one another. If they walk in love, they will obey the Fathers commands. He reminds them of this because there had reports of false teachers travelling the region who do not acknowledge Jesus coming into the world. These people are deceivers and the church must nothing to do with them. Listening to them would only implicate the church in their wicked works.
In the 3rd letter of John, the Elder writes to a friend named Gaius. He is overjoyed to hear of his faithfulness to the truth and asks him to welcome other brother and sisters who are spreading the true Gospel, even if he doesn’t know them, and so work together with them for the truth. However, there is a leader in Gaius’ church that is not to be trusted. Diotrephes opposes John and spreads lies about him. He also refuses welcome the missionaries, and anyone who supports them in their work, Diotrephes throws out of the church. John will set matters right when he comes to visit them later. He recommends Gaius emulate a man named Demetrius who does what is good.
Interpret: John warns the church about false teaching. Right from the beginnings of the early church, deceivers have been trying to distort the true Gospel for their own gain. They have spread distorted truths, partial truths, and outright lies about the salvation message Jesus taught. The church must constantly be on guard against such false teachings and not get caught up in the deceptions.
Not only does John warn about false teaching, but he also points out that even some of those who claim to adhere to the truth, and even be leaders in the church, can succumb to the sin of pride and abuse their position of power. We are to imitate only those whose lives truly reflect the goodness of God.
Application: When John encourages us to walk in the truth, he is means we are to follow the teachings of Christ. When we follow His teachings, we live in a lifestyle were we “love one another” (1:5), a clear reference to the commandment of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Christ according to John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” In this letter John connected this love with walking “according to His commandments” This echoes the teaching of Christ the gospel, where the He told His followers, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Therefore, as people who walk in the truth, we must, as a consequence, also be people who love others and love God. Our love is driven by our obedience to Him.
Furthermore, if we sincerely follow His commands, we will avoid being ensnared by false teachings. In his first letter to the church, 1 John 4:1, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Having a good grasp of scripture and trustworthy, mature Christian friends and pastors will help us to test new ideas, to determine if they of God or not.
John used the words love and truth to describe a life of obedience, and he used the example of Diotrephes to illustrate the dangers of going down the wrong path. As Christians, we have a responsibility to live according to the truth we find in the life and ministry of Jesus. This includes caring for those who serve God’s people. Jesus was surrounded by people who took care of Him. Supporting church leaders requires a level of trust and acceptance that is not necessarily required in other areas our everyday lives. It forces us to step out of our comfort zones and into a territory where we must place our trust in God.
Questions: How often have we heard something from our cultural environment and just accepted it at face value without critically thinking whether it actually lines up with the truth of scripture? Have you ever tested anything against scripture? Would you be willing to challenge it if scripture said it was wrong?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask you to guide us to walk in your truth by obedience to your will for us. Help us to love one another as you have loved us. Give us wisdom to discern those things that are of you and those that are of the world, and the strength to choose correctly. And help us support Christian leaders in the good work they do for your children. We ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.
Song: Until the Whole World Hears – Casting Crowns
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.