Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 28 September 19:
3 John 11 – “Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.”
In the very short missive of 3 John, the author, known in the early church as “The Apostle of Love,” uses the word “love” only twice, but mentions truth seven times to emphasize loving in truth, walking in the truth, working for the truth, and testifying to the truth. The fruit of faith is love, and love is revealed in attitudes, words, and actions. Jesus said, you judge the tree by the fruit the comes from it. Those who truly know and love Jesus are transformed by His love. They don’t continue in unrepentant sin, and when they do sin, they mournfully and humbly turn to God in repentance. Christians are continually claiming the promise of 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
John contrasts the behavior of Gaius and Demetrius with that of Diotrephes. Gaius had displayed his love and “faithfulness to the truth” along with his commitment to “walk in the truth” by showing hospitality and generosity to “the brothers” who he did not know personally. Contrarily, Diotrephes who “likes to put himself first” is characterized by John as a malicious gossip who refuses to “welcome the brothers.” John then reminds us of what Jesus said: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit…. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” (Matthew 12:33, 35)
Of our own power, we have no ability to be “good” only through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit can we hope to do good – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4, 5) So, how do we abide in Christ?
Jesus said, “Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9-11). 3 John 11 tells us to “imitate good” rather than evil. So, how do we imitate good? Ephesians 5 expands on this concept and would be worthy of review today. (https://esv.literalword.com/?q=ephesians+5)
Unlike Diotrephes who lived selfishly while claiming to be Christian, we are to “walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” and to submit “to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5) The Holy Spirit gives us the power to abide in Christ, but we must make the decision daily to submit to God and others in true love. The completely sacrificial love lived out by Jesus is our example.
John makes the point that true love is active and obedient. Good deeds and obedience are not the path to salvation but rather the proof or fruit of salvation. Paul backs John up in Romans 12:9 when he says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” Someone once said, “If you love flowers, you have to hate weeds.” Sin is contrary to God’s will – it offends, hurts, and destroys. We cannot take a casual, careless position on either love or sin like the culture around us does. True followers of Christ follow Christ in word, in deed, and in truth out of love for Him and love for others as His conduits of love.
– 1 John 3:18 — Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 28 Oct 18: If Jesus walked in your circles today, what would he be like? How would He act? What would He do? What would He say to your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers? Make every effort to imitate Jesus today and reveal Jesus to others today. Truly seek to be His Ambassador and minister of reconciliation. Keep a journal of your experience. Make a note every hour on how the last hour went, each time praying for a closer walk with Jesus and a greater imitation of Him to others. (3 John 11)