Wednesday, 8 July 2020
…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, 3 John -6
John just said to Gaius that he does faithfully the things he does for the brethren and the strangers. He now explains how he knows this by adding on the words, “who have borne witness of your love.”
Word had gotten back to John, maybe even by direct testimony from those Gaius had taken care of, that he indeed was faithfully doing the things he was called to do. He tended to the needs of those who came, and he demonstrated his love “before the church.”
John’s words here do not mean that Gaius was a person such as Jesus referred to in Matthew 6 –
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.” Matthew 6:1-4
Rather, Gaius simply did what he did without any fanfare and was noted as such. This is the idea that Paul spoke of in 1 Timothy 5 –
“Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. 25 Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.” 1 Timothy 5:24, 25
When one does good to others, what he does may be done quietly and without any trumpets blasting, but the things he does cannot go unnoticed. Such is the case with Gaius. From this note of acceptance concerning the deeds of Gaius, John then says, “If you send them forward on their journey.”
The Greek verb is in the aorist tense, as if an already-accomplished fact. Therefore, it better reads, “Having sent forward.” John is noting what Gaius has done, and he is acknowledging that it is the appropriate and godly thing that he has done. The deed done without fanfare is a deed which has been properly done and has met the approval of the aged apostle. This is because it was “worthy of God.”
Again, the Greek is closer to “worthily of God.” It is an adverb and a noun combination. The action itself is highlighted because it was done in a manner looking to please God. The whole clause precisely reads “having sent forward worthily of God.” With this in mind, John closes the verse with, “you will do well.”
It is in the future tense, showing that when such actions are taken, it is the appropriate thing that will have been done. The order of the entire clause hinges on this future tense, and the word “you” actually opens the clause. The whole thought reads, “You will do well, having sent forward worthily of God.”
The whole thought is one which acknowledges Gaius’ love, something acknowledged by the church, and John’s prompting to further demonstrate that love by taking the concrete steps noted here to send forth these people in a manner which is becoming of God. The next verse will explain why this should be.
Life application: The word “love” in this verse is agape. In this case, it conveys more than just a feeling, but rather includes his actions as well. To continue demonstrating this love, John notes that his hospitality should also include giving them provisions for their continued journey.
The somewhat unusual construction of John’s words, saying, “you do well,” is believed to be an idiom of the time which basically meant “please.” To understand this, one can simply reword the sentence – “Please, send these brethren forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God.”
The parallel most commonly found in churches today would be that of missionaries looking for financial assistance as they travel from church to church before departing for their mission field. We, as individuals or a church body, should welcome these people into our homes, feed and care for them, and then provide for them not only with financial assistance for their continued journey, but also a promise of support (if they meet the church requirements) as they live in their mission assignment.
A majority of these people have a true heart for the Lord. They are dedicating their lives to the continued spread of the gospel. Because of this, they should be received, tended to, and sent out in a manner worthy of God. Let us remember this as we set our personal and congregational budgets in the years ahead.
Lord Jesus, help us to be responsible people with the money You have provided to us. A fancy latte can be $5 or more. If we have one every day, that adds up to a lot of money. Is this the best we can do with that money when we have missionaries in our churches that are not fully funded? Help us to use what You have given us wisely. Is a fancy coffee of more value than their winning of souls to Christ? Help our priorities to be right, O God. Amen.