3 John

Welcome to My Heart

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 3 John 4-5

In John’s first epistle, he emphasized walking in truth and love by exhibiting koinōnia fellowship* with other Christians. In his second epistle, John warned against false teachers, advising his readers to walk away from error and toward truth. In his third epistle, he combined those ideas and gave specific examples using the standard of hospitality to measure people’s actions.

Hospitality is more than allowing people to come to your house. It involves greeting them with genuine warmth — a smiling face, a hug and perhaps a friendly kiss on the cheek. See to your visitors’ comfort and rest. “Kill the fatted calf” (Luke 15:11-22). Put aside your needs and devote your attention to your guests. Value others above yourself (Philippians 2:3-4). Paul listed hospitality among spiritual gifts, but he also said we should all practice it (Romans 12:6-13).

Gaius, John’s example of a model host, exhibited koinōnia love and fellowship with other Christians who were strangers to him—traveling teachers (missionaries) who depended on the support of other Christians for their basic needs. Gaius met those needs, then sent his guests off with generous gifts.

On the other hand, John’s second example, Diotrephes, did the opposite. He didn’t value others above himself—he loved to be first. He not only refused to welcome the missionaries but also stopped others from doing so. He even put the hospitable ones out of the church.

Diotrephes’ attitude was evil. John told his readers, “Do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God” (v. 11). John advised these Christians to avoid Diotrephes. His attitude towards the hospitality shown to the missionaries identified him as a false teacher.

John’s epistle encourages us to imitate those who practice hospitality. Even if we don’t feel particularly gifted, we can show gracious hospitality. Put out the welcome mat, turn on the lights, and throw open your home to others, especially those who dedicate their lives to spreading the gospel.

DIG DEEPER:

According to Romans 16:23, to whom did Gaius extend hospitality besides John?

A popular verse about hospitality says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). Who were the strangers shown hospitality in the following passages: Genesis 18:1-15, Judges 6:11-24 and 13:3-24?

Mary and Martha showed hospitality in two different ways as described in Luke 10:38-42. How did Mary show she valued her guest in a way that her sister did not? Which one connected heart to heart? How do you show hospitality?

Describe someone you know whose hospitality is worth imitating.

Nancy J. Baker

*See an explanation of koinōnia fellowship in the devotion on 1 John 1.

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