By Jarrod Jacobs
One of the most stirring statements in the Bible is found in John’s third epistle as he wrote of the joy he had when he heard of Gaius and his faithfulness to God. John knew he was not long for this earth. Therefore, it encouraged him to know of others who would be left that stood for the truth. He rejoiced in the fact that Gaius was walking in the truth. Let us read 3 John 1-4: but to have peace with myself, to be content in difficult circumstances.
The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
At this time, John simply refers to himself as“The elder.” He was the only apostle still living at this time. And, as mentioned, he knew he was about to leave this earth. With this in mind, he writes to Gaius and tells him how much he appreciates all that Gaius has done. This article will not deal with all of the third epistle of John, but I wish for us to simply consider John’s attitude at this time, and measure ourselves accordingly.
What Brings Us Joy?
In reading these few verses, we note that it brought John “no greater joy” than to hear about “his children” still walking in truth. “Children” has reference to people he had taught and converted to the Lord. Paul used similar terms in his letters (1 Cor. 4:15; Tit. 1:4; 1 Tim. 1:2). No doubt, the fact that Gaius was still standing for the truth in a time of hardships from without and within meant a great deal to the elder apostle. In like manner, it means a great deal to know of those today who, after suffering difficulties, still stand for “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Brethren, what brings us joy?
Do We Rejoice When We Know Of Faithful Brethren?
Are we happy to know of brethren in different parts of this country or different parts of the world that are stand- ing for the truth? Or, does our joy come from physical pursuits, such as our work or recreational activities? Do we “rejoice greatly” when we hear about our fellow-heirs and fellow-laborers still doing what they ought? Or, are we the kind that only rejoices when we have some juicy “tidbit” to spread about the brethren?
John said he “rejoiced greatly,” and that he had “no greater joy” than in hearing of the faithful life of Gaius, as well as other brethren. In saying he had “no greater joy,” he was saying that there was nothing that produced greater joy for him in this life than knowing of his “children” walking in truth.
I have seen this same attitude especially in older breth- ren. They ask about the brethren in different places, not out of spite, nor malice, looking for something that is wrong; but in genuine concern, wishing to rejoice with brethren over the good work that is going on for the Lord in various parts of this country and the world. What about us? Do we have the mind set of John and Gaius, or of Diotrephes, who “loveth to have the preeminence” (3 John 9)?
Sources Of Joy
What are sources of joy for us? Are we like John, Paul, and the other apostles, who drew strength from Christ and from their brethren? Are we the kind who must always find fault in others, or can we look for and see brethren who stand for the truth, and say that they cause us to “rejoice greatly”?
In like manner, can we say as John that we “have no greater joy” than to hear about brethren walking in truth? Or, are there other things that bring us a“greater joy”? Per- haps we are guilty of placing more emphasis on our boat, car, vacations, etc., than the Lord (see Matt. 6:33). Perhaps our “joy” is found in placing our family before God (see Matt. 10:34-37). Unfortunately, many today are guilty of covetousness. Paul calls it “idolatry” (Col. 3:5). Have we ever considered how idolatrous this country really is? You see, idolatry is the religion of sight in opposition to that of faith. Because this is true, whatever you wish to place before God becomes your idol, regardless of whether or not you physically bow down to it. Whatever you place before God becomes your “joy.”
Now, what is your joy? David said the blessed man “delights” in God’s word (Pss. 1:2; 119:35, 92). In what do you delight? John said he rejoiced greatly in Gaius, as well as his “children” because of their stand. Are we rejoicing in the right things? Do we remember why we are here upon this earth (Eccl. 12:13)? Do we appreciate what it means to be a Christian?