Wherever you are the battle of good and evil rages. All too often we see, and are affected by, the evil in society. It can be overwhelming, frustrating and can even cause hopelessness. Despair is a powerful emotion; it not only affects our mood, it can ruin friendships, health, jobs and even marriages.
We go to our local church hoping for sanctuary but in some cases evil can be sitting on a pew right beside us. What hope do we have? In a word, plenty!
The third epistle of John is a personal letter written to a man named Gaius. John makes it clear that Gaius was a spiritual giant.
- He is a Christian v.3 (the truth is in you)
- He lived what he preached. v.4 (walking in truth)
- Hospitality, both to his church & to strangers v.5
- Because of his faithfulness, he was respected & loved by John.
- John says receiving & helping others is what we ought to do. v.8
Amongst this glowing review pay close attention to verse 2… 3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. Is Gaius suffering physically and / or psychologically? Do you think I am stretching scripture here? Let me explain. This is not a simple “wishing you good health”. John is in the process of praising Gaius for his Christian character; why would he mix in a physical element? It does seem a bit out of place.
We should also take a look at the wording: “I wish above all things”. That is a really strong statement. If this was a simple “wishing you good health” then John just put more emphasis on our physical condition than on spiritual matters. Remember, he said… “above all things”.
There was trouble in the church where Gaius worshipped. A man named Diotrephes was trying to rule over the church. John describes him in verses 9-11.
- Proud, big shot, wanting his own way. V.9
- Rebellious against authority. V.9
- Saying things with the intent to hurt. V.10
- Had no care or concern for others V.10
- V.11 indicates that he was not a Christian. This is very strong language but hypocrites should be exposed for who they really are.
This guy was a real troublemaker and perhaps Gaius allowed this to physically affect him. Why else would John put such an emphasis on his physical health?
It is one thing to battle the effects of evil in the world but confronting evil within God’s house can be a tremendous blow. I have personally talked to people who have experienced this very thing and decided to forsake the assembling together in God’s House. “I will never set foot in church again.” Is that the answer? It is certainly not what John prescribed here in this letter.
For a time, as we see it, Diotrephes was spreading his poison and getting away with it. Rest assured, God sees everything. There is a verse in Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
Why does God wait? That is a big question but I’ll give it a shot. I expect we would be in total agreement that God should give us as many chances as we need to be conformed to the example of Jesus Christ. Why then do we expect God to be less tolerant of others? Who did we hurt before we were saved? Who did we hurt after we were saved? It is not God’s will that any should perish so He waits giving us all the chance to repent.
Is there an end? Of course there is an end. In our scripture text Diotrephes was exposed for who he really was. His evil deeds were coming to an end.
We must accept that God waits out of love for sinners to repent. While God waits their evil deeds may cause us despair. Don’t forget, God waited on us. Do we really want to take away their chance for salvation?
If evil deeds have left you in despair to the point of being physically and/or psychologically affected my hope for you, above all things, is that you may prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers.