I have been thinking lately how we often marry up, don’t we boys? That’s the goal isn’t it? When we look at relationships with friends, this makes me wonder if we do the same. Are we friending up? Sharpening each other? Who are we following? And are we settling?
1 The elder,
To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2 Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. 7 It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8 We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.
9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
11 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. 12 Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.
13 I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. 14 I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.
I attended a men’s group on Tuesday night in which we talked about the importance of men encouraging other men. Iron sharpens iron and all that stuff (Proverbs 27:17). I believe it. We probably don’t encourage each other enough in life. Maybe it’s the competitive dog-eat-dog spirit with which we approach relationships with other men.
Maybe its just busyness of life driving us to choose to disengage from real relationships.
And then I read John’s letter to Gaius and I see some stuff that looks like it was written by my men’s group leader…
John starts by identifying himself as the elder. John is the spiritual mentor to Gaius. Elders should invest in their spiritual children. Do you have spiritual children? Think about that. Whoever is in the faith in part because of your influence should be considered a spiritual child of yours. You bear some responsibility for their maturity and development. It takes a village.
It takes a spiritual village.
He then expresses his love for Gaius. I love you, man. Not drunk-texting or slurring it after a long crawl at the bar when you’ve helped him into the taxi. Let’s not cheapen it. John loves Gaius. Deeply. After investing in Gaius’ spiritual life, John has a commitment and deep level of care for Gaius’ future. He loves him. And he isn’t ashamed to say it. Who needs to hear that you love them? Make the call.
John prays for his friend, for his spiritual well-being and with joy because of Gaius’ faithfulness. And he spurs Gaius on in his faithfulness. He recognizes what is good, and explains why it’s important to continue doing it. No one else will welcome the traveling brothers and sisters. The unbelievers aren’t going to do it, and Diotrephes is putting himself before the mission. Gaius, you are the one keeping the hospitality going and it is encouraging the missionaries and getting around – people are rejoicing because of what you are doing. Keep doing it!
Such positive reinforcement is often lacking in our relationships, particularly between men. It’s probably lacking between women as well, where many of the same issues exist with different nuances. The fulfillment of our command to spur one another on (Hebrews 10:24) is hanging by a thread in many circles… Could you encourage someone today?
John offers Diotrephes as the negative example – self-centred and off-mission, this dude is who we should not follow – “do not imitate what is evil, but what is good” John tells Gaius. Who are you following? Are you friending up or down?
I made this observation at our men’s group that often we marry up, don’t we? This is sit-com fodder. King of Queens illustrates the point. Fat, bumbling goofball marries up to intelligent, beautiful wife. Move this over to friendships. Do we friend up or friend down? Are we choosing as close friends guys like Diotrephes and following similar paths or are we looking for the John’s and Gaius’ to set our lives against a context of integrity and commitment to Jesus? Take stock.
John closes by encouraging Gaius to pass the peace. Pass on the greetings. Share the love. We ought to do likewise. Spur on a brother (or sister). Do it today.