The Apostle John is delighted to hear the good news that his disciples in Gaius’ church are holding on to the truth. They continue to walk in the light of the reality of their own sinfulness and in the reality that only by faith in Christ and His perfect righteousness can anyone find favor in God’s eyes. It is the truth of our sinfulness that makes possible genuine love for one another. This is the Gospel message that works its way out as we live together from the inside. John commends the believers that meet in Gaius’ church in 3 John 1:5-6a. He says to them, “Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church.” That believers did not work up from within themselves, the motivation, the energy, or the desire to be better people and care for others. They found that in the truth of the Gospel, hearts are opened to true love for others. Max Lucado seems to have grasped this idea well and said, “Do-it-yourself Christianity is not much encouragement to the done-in and worn-out. Self-sanctification holds little hope for the addict.… At some point, we need more than good advice; we need help. Somewhere on this journey home, we realize that a fifty-fifty proposition is too little. We need more.… We need help. Help from the inside out.… Not near us. Not above us. Not around us. But in us. In the part of us, we don’t even know. In the heart, no one else has seen. In the hidden recesses of our being dwells not an angel, not a philosophy, not a genie, but God.”[1]

It’s clear to us all, if we’re honest about it, that the law is powerless to change our life. It only focuses on the externals. We need to be “born again” through personal faith in God’s love expressed to us all on Calvary while we were yet sinners. Max Anders wrote, “The grace of Christ is powerful because it changes us from the inside out. Every person struggles with selfishness. We get preoccupied with our finances, our families, our loneliness, our time crunches, and our aches and pains. Yet all around us are people sharing the same problems. They are so overcome by difficulties that often, they are emotionally and spiritually down. Grace frees us and empowers us through the Holy Spirit to reach out to them and to turn their heart light on through simple expressions of love. They simply need us to love them in word and deed.”[2] This is what the disciples were doing, and the Apostle John commended them for it.

John was at war with the gnostics of his day. They professed something special that they had above and beyond the others. You had to come to them for this special revelation in order to gain God’s acceptance. It was a matter of secret “knowledge” or “wisdom.” But several times, the bible teaches us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. True reverence for God is found only in those who realize their own impotence. As life teaches us the limits of human wisdom and understanding, we learn to marvel at God’s omnipotence and omniscience.   In 1 Corinthians 8:2, Paul wrote, “And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.” True wisdom involves coming to know that we don’t know very much. Before 1950 it was said that the world’s knowledge more than doubled every 50 years. Today the amount of the world’s knowledge is doubled every other year. Along with man’s limitations comes the reality of man’s sinfulness. Ecclesiastes chapter 7 ended with the indictment of the entire human race as sinners. Every man and every woman has sinned and fallen short of God’s standard.  When we walk in this truth, we can walk in love for God and others.

[1] Lucado, Max, and Terri A. Gibbs. 2000. Grace for the Moment: Inspirational Thoughts for Each Day of the Year. Nashville, TN: J. Countryman.

[2] Anders, Max. 1999. Galatians-Colossians. Vol. 8. Holman New Testament Commentary. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.