As we look at III John, we see many of the same themes that we see in II John, and for that matter in I John: those of truth and love.
Here, though, we have a very practical application of these things: the support of missionaries and other ministers of the gospel.
As we saw in John’s last letter, there were many traveling teachers who went from church to church, missionaries if you will. They seemed to be not only going to the churches, but preaching to unbelievers as well, as John makes specific note that they received no support from the “pagans.” (7)
Because these missionaries were doing this service for the sake of Christ, John encouraged Gaius, the recipient of this letter, and apparently a leader in the church, to support such people in giving them a place to stay, and providing food, drink, and other needs that they might have. (This is in sharp contrast to what John told the church in II John 1:10 concerning false teachers).
Many Christians don’t think of this, but by supporting missionaries, we are walking in truth and love. We walk in truth in that we support the spread of it to those around us. And we walk in love by helping those who preach it. And not only are we showing love to those missionaries, but love for those they take the gospel to.
Unfortunately, a man named Diotrephes refused to do this. He was another leader in the church, but instead of living a life of truth and love, he lived only for himself. John said that he loved to be first (9) and would have nothing to do with the leaders of the church and those missionaries who spread the gospel. Instead, he spread gossip about them. More, he threw people out of the church who tried to support the missionaries that had come to them. (10)
In short, out of his pride, Diotrephes told his congregation, “I don’t recognize these people, and neither should you.”
Unfortunately, there are pastors like this. Because they are so concerned about their own position, they refuse to work with anyone else outside their own organization. What’s even worse is when they refuse to accept any authority besides themselves because of their pride.
But John tells Gaius,
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. (11)
In other words, “Don’t be like Diotrephes, Gaius. Walk in truth and love as we do and as you have been doing until now.”
How about you? Do you support the truth and those who preach it with your finances? Do you support your pastor? Do you support the missionaries you know?
Do you seek to bless such people who are working for the name of Christ?
Or do you instead snipe at them from behind?
This world needs Jesus. But they will never find him if we are not walking in truth and love. And one big way to do that is to support those spreading the gospel.