My seven year old son was flipping through his Bible the other day when he said to me, “Sheesh—3 John is a short John!”
Indeed it is—but it is a lovely little sardine can of an epistle.
I was feeling kinda low last night. Needing to refocus my thoughts with God’s word, I considered continuing in Revelation, but I’ve been frustrating myself by getting hung up on little details in that study lately. I thought it wise for the purposes of fresh focus to turn elsewhere. Perhaps inspired by my son’s earlier observation, I decided to check out “the Johns.” Besides, reading other letters from the apostle would only enhance my study of Revelation, right?
In 1 & 2 John, I appreciated the many direct references to the teachings of Christ found in the gospels. I could hear the heart of a man who had listened to the words from God, Himself, and learned the weight of their meaning better with experience. I also heard the heart of a leader who was very concerned that those under his care not be deceived and led astray by worldly thinking and false teaching.
But what really grabbed my heart was this little gem:
3 John 1:4 (NASB)
4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
John is not the only New Testament writer to express this sentiment, nor was it lost on me. I am no where near as invested as those men were in the task of making disciples. I have not had to make the sacrifices that they did—but I know that feeling! There is absolutely nothing like being used by God to help someone know Him better. They might be older than me, more educated, or more articulate, but when I pour what God has given me into someone who needs it, they become like a beloved child.
The heart revealed in their questions and struggles is endearing. I feel protective. I worry about bad influences and destructive teaching. Damaging choices frustrate me and break my heart. I am thrilled to see growth. I am proud to watch their God given gifts developed and used for Him. And then the day comes when they really don’t need me anymore. They are as much of a support to me as I am to them. We are friends—working together for the cause of Christ, bound together by the Holy Spirit. I am honored to have been a part of the process and my heart is blessed again and again.
Yep, that is a great joy for sure! —And an effective refocus.