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May 3, 2015
“Fellow Helpers to the Truth!”
3 John 1:1-14
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
(Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited)
As I watch events throughout the world unfold this week, one thing I can surely say is that we need each other. From the very beginning of our time here on this earth we were meant and designed to live in partnership with one another.
That’s why God created Eve for Adam because He knew that he needed a suitable “help meet,” (Genesis 2:18); He knew he needed someone to share life with, someone to support his endeavors, and someone to partner up with in this life.
The idea of partnership brings about the sense of one wanting to get involved with what you are involved with. One who wants to share and participate in the move and ministry of where God is leading you; people investing in people to bring about a greater communal effect. It’s sowing the seed of self into the ground of others that you may help them produce a great harvest in the end also.
“Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together” – Paul Ryan (Quote Source: Brainyquote.com). Our job as Christian brothers and sisters are a hand in hand effort. It is us pulling together as “coworkers,” as “fellow helpers” to support and help the ministry of others grow and flourish.
This is a key point that John is hitting on in today’s lesson. As children of God, we are to be supporters and not dividers of the truth. We are to uphold our brothers and sisters in Christ that His work is not hindered, but rather, is supplied to go on and grow to make an even greater impact in the lives of others.
3 John 1:1-2
1) “The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2) Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
John begins this letter much like he did when he sent his address in last week’s lesson. The recipient of this letter is “Gaius,” of whom we are not sure who he is. One definite thing we do know about him is that he is “wellbeloved” by John.
Judging by his address/greeting there was definitely some sort of camaraderie between the two; one that was bound by “love in the truth.” As was stated in last week’s lesson: “Love and truth go hand in hand. One cannot love by the words of the mouth only, but it has to be expressed in deeds and in truth (see 1 John 3:18). There is to be an unbreakable support system within the body of believers that will help one another to continue to develop in their truth walk as well. This is done through the bond of love that they/we have for one another,” (Word For Life Says/Warning! Warning!).
John then proceeded to speak a blessing over Gaius that many of us have heard before. He said, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” John’s desire for Gaius was just as his “soul prospereth;” as the inner man, the part of him that connects with God and heaven continues to increase; his prayer is that all areas of his life do the same, including his “health.”
3 John 1:3-4
3) “For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.
4) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
John expresses his “joy” over the spiritual “walk” of his “children” (spiritual children). He, John, heard from others of the “truth” that is in Gaius. They “testified” or gave witness of the sincerity of his faith in Christ Jesus.
If one is walking the walk and not just talking the talk others will see that and testify or tell of it to others. There is no need to try to boost oneself up. There’s no need to try to have a Pharisaic spirit of always wanting to put on display one’s righteousness (see John 12:43) or good deeds.
The Bible tells us, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips,” (Proverbs 27:2). It also tells us, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth,” (2 Corinthians 10:18).
Thankfully, Gaius was not like that. Word got back to John about his Christian walk because it showed in his life. William Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all men and women merely players . . .” (Brainy Quote). People pay more attention to your performance than your words; to your life than what you say out of your mouth.
In this John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” As I explained in last week’s lesson:
“When someone sees someone doing right, it is important to encourage them in that. This is what John was doing here. John was ecstatic to see Christians “walking in truth.” Do you know what we can best identify this with? Any parental situation! Parents always want what’s best for their children. They would love to hear “good reports” coming from the different areas of a child’s life. Let me tell you from experience, it doesn’t stop when they become adults. You still celebrate those “walking in truth” moments and your heart exhales a blessed sigh of, “Ah!”
To see them making decision that go in line with the faith they have learned through the gospel and the “commandment from the Father,” John was just as pleased as punch that their lifestyle was matching up with their profession of faith.
As an example, in Ephesian 4:1 Paul urged his readers, “That ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” If your life has been changed by faith and by following what is written in the Word of God then you should “walk” like it; you should live like it! Show on the outside the transformation that has taken place on the inside!
So, John “rejoiced” because they were living this thing. They are living as a child of God who has been blessed by His love and now they are doling out that same love to others. They have invested of themselves to follow His “truth.” (Word For Life Says/ Warning! Warning!)
John felt the same “joy” at learning of Gaius’ Christian walk.
3 John 1:5-8
5) “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;
6) Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:
7) Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
8) We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.”
John applauded the work that Gaius has done “faithfully” to the “brethren, and to strangers.” In His faithfulness to follow after God’s commands; to operate in love, Gaius served his fellow man and made a difference in their lives and their ministries as well. So much so, they “borne witness of thy charity before the church.”
Gaius’ faithfulness was measured by his service. There was no lip service here. He had a heart to serve God by serving His people. The Bible tells us, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,” (James 2:26). Faith, without the outward workings of tangible evidences is just as dead as a body without a spirit. There is no life there; there is no real faith there.
1 Peter 4:9 tells us, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” There are some who serve but their heart is not in it. In fact, they even resent the one whom they are serving. Saints of God need each other! We are in this together! We may not always agree with one another but our love for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ should provoke us to help and care for each other. Opening up our resources to share in what we have “without grudging” is a mark of a true Christian.
What Gaius did he did freely out of love, or “charity.” That’s why 1 Peter 4 also tells us, “Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves,” (vs. 8). Love makes the difference! There’s no way around it. God is love. Jesus died because of love. And now we are admonished to have that same “fervent charity” toward one another.
Christians are to have a love for each other that cannot be easily extinguished by life’s difficulties. Paul wrote, “Ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another,” (Gal. 5:13, KJV). This hits home with the gist of our lesson. The love and compassion we have in us should be poured out to the saints in service.
Gaius’ love was made evident and testified of in “church” because of his service. Jesus also showed us how to get into the dirtiest crevices of humanity, wipe their feet and serve!
“Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.” Every day, right where you are, there are opportunities to let the love of Christ shine in this dark world. The world is already used to seeing the inconsiderate side of man, so now it’s time for the church to rise up and show them the loving side of God. How? Through our service! Through everyday occurrences where you show somebody that you value them, especially those who are working for “his name’s sake;” those who have invested themselves to the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
They shouldn’t have to look to the world; they shouldn’t have to look to the “Gentiles” for resources. They are working for God and should be supported by the house of God. They are trying to win the world not ask the world for money and resources.
The Apostle Paul taught, “For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn,” (1 Corinthians 9:9). He also wrote, “Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel,” (1 Corinthians 9:14). We must support the work of one another! We must support the work of the gospel like Gaius did.
When we do we become “fellowhelpers to the truth.” When we assist with ministry efforts we become united in the cause; partners working hand in hand to see this great work go forth.
3 John 1:9-11
9) “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephese, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
10) Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbidding them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
11) Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
Unlike Gaius’ efforts at assisting the “brethren” that were traveling and teaching the gospel, “Diotrephese” refused to help. Though he had a prominent position in the “church” (for our lesson tells us of his love “to have the preeminence among them”), he “receiveth us not.”
“Diotrephese’s” position, according to our lesson, is one of leadership and authority. If it had not been then he would have no power to stop others from helping these brethren or cast “them out of the church.”
The responsibility of hospitality to help out or the lack thereof was the key problem addressed in this letter. It showed who really loves and who doesn’t. And, the only thing that Diotrephese loved was himself. He was selfish in his lack of support and the barring of others to support as well.
Hospitality during the biblical times was very important. People dealt kindly with one another. Especially when one would travel from city to city, they had to rely on the generosity of someone in that place opening up their doors and receiving them in. They would depend on someone to give them a place to rest their head and some nourishment for their stomach, even if they didn’t have a clue as to who he was (such as Gaius did).
I believe there are still opportunities for that kind of hospitality; to be “fellowhelpers to the truth” and coworkers together. Even if it is not actually opening our homes to a stranger, there are many other ways that we can let that same generous spirit do a work through our lives. It’s that same spirit that will allow us to see outside ourselves so that we can show God’s love to another. How much of a difference could that make in a life to feel that someone has opened up a door of love and has accepted them in and supports them, especially if they are about Kingdom business?
Humans were created to love one another, to be generous to one another, to support one another and so on. We are coworkers in this thing! We are fellowhelpers one to another!
Our society promotes such a nasty sense of self-centeredness; that most people don’t even know how to relate to one another. Thinking of themselves; carrying about a “Diotrephes” spirit. If there is no personal benefit, then why even bother?
This attitude also thrives in our churches. “For men shall be lovers of their own selves . . .,” (2 Tim. 3:2) we are told. But, I know we can, if we make a deliberate effort, combat the negativity of this attitude. Not only can we, we should! God has opened up the door of His heavenly home and has given us entrance through His Son. Jesus became an opened door for people to experience the love and generosity of God, (John 10:9).
With that, John warned “Gaius” to not be like “Diotrephes” who was considered to be operating in “evil.” Those were not the footsteps to walk in or “follow” after. He was to continue to do “good;” John pleaded with him to continue showing the hospitality and support to the brethren as he had already been doing, and if he does, he is operating as “God” would have him. After all, isn’t that the most important thing? That “God” approves of what you are doing? Perhaps we should learn to live more for that audience of one.
3 John 1:12-14
12) “Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.
13) I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:
14) But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.”
It is supposed that John was looking for the same support that Gaius showed the others for “Demetrius” also. And, why not? He has a “good report of all men” meaning there is nothing negative to report that would prohibit him from receiving aid from Gaius. He is very highly spoken of.
His walk “of the truth itself” speaks for him. That’s why the Bible tells us, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches . . .” (Proverbs 22:1) because one’s reputation does, in fact, precede them. In fact, Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing” (Brainyquote). Demetrius’ shadow was telling them that he was a good man. Your life will tell on you every time. It will tell who you really are.
With that, John was ready to sign off this letter much as he did in last week’s letter with the promise of speaking “face to face.” As I stated in last week’s lesson: “In our age of texting and communicating via anything other than “face to face,” I believe John really is telling us that the key to foster more love and truth in the church is our continual support of one another through fellowship.” The same holds true here also. After all, we are talking of being fellowhelpers with one another, aren’t we?
We need to support one another in ministry efforts.
(Click here for PDF: Fellow Helpers to the Truth Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below. Enjoy!)
Below are activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Draw the Scene: Fellow Helpers to the Truth Draw the Scene (Use this PDF link for accurate printing)
How Many Words?: Fellow Helpers to the Truth How Many Words (Use this PDF link for accurate printing)
Below are Activities/Resources/Links to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
“Follow Only What is Good Coloring Sheet 3 Jn. 1:11” (Intended for older students. Enjoy!)
“Pasta Master” (Yes, PASTA! Using spaghetti and paper plates this fun activity really expresses the idea of cooperation and being co-workers. So easy. So simple. I am soooo doing this. Enjoy!)
“Cup Challenge” (Another wonderful and easy idea that will get your students working together. Or, I may do this one. Either one will get the point across and be fun to watch as a teacher ;). Enjoy!)
“5 Simple Activities That Promote Teamwork” (All of these are great and geared toward our younger students. Enjoy!)
“Marshmallow Challenge” (Using the list of supplies, each team works to build the structure. What fun! Click to find out more. Enjoy!)
“Air Lock Teambuilding Game” (Fun for large groups and if you have space. Enjoy!)
“Generosity Through Rainbow Fish” (This will help students to combat that Diotrephes mentality we see in today’s lesson and be more like Gaius. Enjoy!)
“10 Ideas for Teaching Generosity and Gratitude” (Again, these activities will teach children not to be selfish like Diotrephes. Enjoy!)
“35+Service Projects for Kids” (Here are some great ways to introduce the idea of helping and serving others to your students. Enjoy!)
“Paper Doll Chain” never goes out of style when teaching working together, hand in hand. Click here and your students can make their own for a nice reminder of today’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Heart Laced Bookmark” (Can someone say, “Easy!” Yes, this is. Simply print out onto cardstock, have students decorate with a verse from today’s lesson and lace it up with yarn or ribbon. What a nice reminder for them to take home and use. Enjoy!)