3 John 1:5-8, “Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.”
Sad to say, but hospitality, true hospitality seems to be a lost art in the modern church. With the “church” becoming institutionalized it has robbed individuals and those with a ministry of mercy and even giving, of the ability to do as John’s beloved friend Gaius was known to have engaged in.
Hospitality is an important theme in the New Testament writings as attested to some of the comments that Jesus, Himself stated. You can see what He said in Matthew 25:34-40 when He was speaking to the multitudes and His disciples. He told of how the King will reward those who clothed and fed, visited and gave relief to strangers, and how when doing it for them, they were doing it unto Him.
In the reverse, or the negative, Jesus shares, as written in Matthew 25:41-46 what the outcome is to those who refuse or ignore mercy and hospitality to strangers. The truth is, you will still find some hospitality in the smaller, rural-country churches. Sadly, in the large mega-churches, it is easier for the assembly to purchase a hotel room for traveling missionaries and evangelists than it is to open their own doors and give strangers a taste of personal care.
Many today will argue why this is the most convenient and so forth, but as with all things Biblical, there is a reason WHY the Bible has these Spiritual Principles written down for our remembrance. This is another reason, and I KNOW I harp on it a lot, but this is another reason, why the teaching of individual ministries as related in the Bible in the New Testament and especially in the Apostle Paul’s writings is so important. Yet today, and especially in the large, churches, it is not taught or what is taught is a watered-down version of the truth in the Scriptures because so many mega-church pastors, desire to KEEP their members to themselves, rather than encouraging them to go out and emulate the Lord’s way of making disciples!
There is a personal connection to hospitality that is often missed in today’s society and its churches. Jesus taught His disciples over two-thousand years ago to make preaching the Gospel and especially in new cities, personal. He even told them, as He sent the disciples out, to search out people with good reputation and bless them and the very city that welcomes them! As I stated, today, it is very much a lost art. But with Gaius, it WAS a lifestyle to him. It was his way of ministering or serving others; and without meaning too, it caused his reputation to become well known within the growing church.
Which leads me to verse six. John touches on the rewards involved. Though it was obvious from just this little bit that Gaius was not showing hospitality for rewards, the Beloved Apostle is quick to point out that as with ALL giving from a pure motive and a cheerful heart, there are rewards for that service.
First, he became well known for his hospitality. This of course opened the door for more opportunities to show hospitality to others. Yet John is also hinting at the future rewards available to those who give whole-heartedly of themselves. In the Gospel of Matthew, we find Jesus stating this, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” – Matthew 10:40-42.
Now think of what Jesus is saying. You may not be a preacher, a messenger of the Word of God, but if you receive one and open your heart and hearth to them, you will be entitled to the same reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ! Jesus is setting forth another Spiritual Principle here. If you receive one in My name, He says, then you are doing as much as receiving Me. Why? Because it was the Holy Spirit of Christ Himself that sent the minister!
It is evident that God, the Father, WILL pay back all our good deeds done unselfishly! I once heard it said and I can’t remember where, that “God’s kindness will crown the kindness of godly man!” We see it all through the Gospels especially and yet the Apostle John is touching on it here.
Here is another part of John’s statement in this verse that unless you think about it, you might miss it; “If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, . . .” What is John saying here other than commenting on the future rewards? Remember what Jesus commanded the disciples; take no coin, no extra clothing, but go as you are. Why? Because it gives to those the disciples are going too, the opportunity to receive a minister, a servant of God and the Word and to be the blessing to them that is “a manner worthy of God.”
Remember, Jesus said to leave a blessing if the home and the city is worthy or to brush the dust off and curse the home or city if it is not worthy. In other words, if you are the one distributing hospitality, don’t just give the traveling servants a friendly goodbye and farewell, but help them with adequate supplies to get them to the next place. Today, it would be like filling up their gas tank in their automobiles and giving them some food or groceries and some finances for the journey to get them to the next place they are going. John goes on to say if you do this, “you will do well.”
Now going forward you will see that the Apostle gives a reason for doing this. There is ALWAYS a logical and wise reason for the things we do in the spiritual realm; “Because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles.” They were going out, being led by the Holy Spirit and were not relying upon unbelievers or the unconverted. Those who travel for the Lord, whether Evangelists, Teachers, Prophets, etc., do so trusting that their needs will be met by the Lord. The Lord has PROMISED to meet their needs and He relies on His children to be the ones to supply those needs in faith and in liberality.
Now understand something; in most cases they were and are even today, traveling to teach the faithful and to preach to the unsaved, presenting the Word of God that has the power to heal the lost spiritually. So it is not that the unsaved are not loved by God and should not be loved by us, with compassion and mercy, but we do NOT want to give the impression that God Almighty, Who supplies ALL our needs, according to His riches in glory, needs the help of the unsaved and unconverted. It is the appearance while preaching the glories of the Kingdom of God. Servants are trusting in the Kingdom of God and those who are citizens of that Kingdom, rather than the kingdom of man or of the world.
One thing you do NOT want to do, while preaching the NEED for the Kingdom of God in one’s life, is to take from the unsaved, which in turn MIGHT cause them to have a false sense of self-righteousness and a belief that their good deeds or works alone is enough! It takes Spiritual Wisdom to labor in the Kingdom of God and I’m saddened to say this, but it is a direct and sad statement of admonishment AGAINST the way many large churches and other religious organizations raise money today! Think about it! Especially in the light of Scripture.
If we are in intimate communion with God, our Heavenly Father we should remember that it is a special obligation AND service to the servants of the Lord who in faith believe that God will supply their needs for the direction that He is leading them in service to others. We often state that “whom the Lord calls, He also equips,” but we need to remember that He also supplies their needs to perform what He equips them to do.
Now John is pretty much “preaching to the choir,” as it were when he commends Gaius in what his friend is already doing. BUT – by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, this is not just a reiteration to Gaius, but a statement to ALL believers in the Lord.
“We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.” Thus John is reminding us that we are fellow partakers of the work that these servants of the Lord are involved in, when we also help them in their endeavors. We act upon the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance in relation to their work, thus we also fulfill our work and ultimately it is the Lord Who is blessed. Just as when we do for these servants, it is as if we are doing for the Lord, so John is telling us we are ALSO partaking in the work they do. Yet again, this shows us the interconnectivity of the Scriptures and how, when you delve into the Spirit of the Word, it does NOT contradict itself, but rather confirms and enforces with authority the Spiritual Principles laid out in print! How truly AWESOME is that, when we can see the plan of God so vividly in His Word!
I KNOW I say this so very often and more so of late, but this again just demonstrates the importance of the Body of Christ, working in unity, peace and love with Christ Jesus and His Holy Spirit at the Head of that Body. Everything fits together nicely, just as a healthy body should!