For I was overjoyed when the brothers came and testified about your devotion to the truth, in which you continue to walk.
I. ASPECTS OF SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY. "Brethren came and bare witness unto thy truth, even as thou walkest in truth."
1. Truth appropriated in mind and heart. Our interpretation of the words, "thy truth," would be superficial and inadequate if we simply said that they express the sincerity of Gaius. The expression involves this, that he was true in religion and in life; but it means that his religious beliefs were correct - that he held the truth concerning the Person and work of Jesus Christ. On these subjects pernicious errors had arisen in the Church. Some denied the Godhead of our Saviour; others denied the reality of his manhood. "The first stumbled at his pre-existence and incarnation, because he suffered indignity and anguish; the other, admitting his Divine nature, thought it beneath him actually to suffer, and therefore denied that his body or his sufferings were anything else but illusory appearances" (Binney). Against each of these errors St. John wrote. And by the expression, "the truth," he generally means the apostolic doctrine concerning the Person and work of Jesus Christ. "This truth Gaius held; held it as his life; it was 'in him,' as filling his intellect and affections; in his understanding as a source of light, in his heart as the object of love." The apostle, as we have learned from his former Epistles, attached the utmost importance to correct religious belief.
2. Truth manifested in life and conduct. "Thou walkest in truth." His practical life was in harmony with his professed creed. The truth he held was not merely a form of sound words, but a living force in his character and conduct. His faith was not a mere speculation or opinion, but a thing of deep feeling and firm conviction. The faith that does not influence the life towards harmony with itself is not faith in the scriptural sense; it is assent, or opinion; but it is not Christian faith, or saving faith. Our real faith moulds the life into conformity with the truth believed. St. John quite as earnestly insisted upon practicing the truth as upon holding it. "He that doeth good is of God; he that doeth evil hath not seen God" (verse 11; and 1 John 3:7, 10). Let us, like Gaius, hold the truth, make it our own; and also live the truth, walk in it day by day. Cultivate a true faith and a holy life.
II. TESTIMONY TO SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY. " Brethren came and bare witness unto thy truth," etc. These brethren were probably those who had been commended to the Church by the apostle, rejected through the influence of Diotrephes (verse 9), and then entertained by Gains. They probably presented this report on their return to the Church of which St. John was pastor, and from which they had been sent forth (verses 5, 6).
1. It is a pleasure to good men to testify to the excellence of others.
2. It is gratifying to a good man to receive the commendation of good men. "A good name is better than precious ointment." "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches."
III. THE INFLUENCE OF SPIRITUAL PROSPERITY UPON THE GOOD. "Greater joy have I none than this, to hear of my children," etc.
1. The tender relation here mentioned. "My children." It seems that Gains had been converted through the ministry of St. John. He was the spiritual child of the apostle; his "true child in faith;" his "beloved child," as St. Paul says of Timothy. This relationship is very close, tender, and sacred (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:14, 15).
2. The great joy here spoken of. "Greater joy have I none than this," etc. Every genuine Christian rejoices to find men walking in the truth; but the apostle had the additional joy which arose from the dear and holy tie by which he and Gains were united. The success of a young man in temporal things is a great joy to his parents. To Christian parents it is a far greater joy when their children give their hearts to God, and walk in truth. And to the Christian minister, and the Sunday school teacher, the spiritual prosperity of those whom they have led to the Saviour is a source of deep and pure rejoicing. Such prosperity is a proof that we have not laboured in vain; it is a distinguished honour conferred upon us by God; and it gives a foretaste of the grand final reward, "Well done, good and faithful servant," etc. To hear of or to behold such fruits of our Christian work both humbles and rejoices us. Christian brethren, let us aim both to appropriate and to exemplify Christian truth. - W.J.
I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee.
(S. Cox, D. D.)I. FAITH IN POSSESSION.
1. The unconditional acceptance of the truth.
2. The harmony of truth with our moral nature.
II. FAITH IN ACTION.
1. Faith in action is a healthful and energising exercise of our whole life.
2. Faith in action is a power wielded over others.
III. FAITH ON RECORD. The faithful witnesses who gave their evidence in the presence of St. John were samples of others who gave their evidence before the tribunal of the world.
1. It is a record worth making. To write down the deeds, the trials, and the victories of faith is not a waste of either time or materials.
2. It is worth rehearsing.
3. It is worth preserving. Its influence is marvellous. The lamp of another strengthens the light of our own, to make clearer the Christian path.
IV. THE REFLEX INFLUENCE OF FAITH. Gaius was the apostle's son in the faith. How the soul of the aged minister was lighted up as the brethren related to him the glad tidings concerning the soul he had been instrumental in saving.
(T. Davies, M. A.)
1. Bad things go speedily, good slowly; the one flies like eagles, the other creeps like snails.
2. The one are enlarged, the other diminished.
3. The one all hear of, but a few of the others.
4. Bad things go without ceasing; men are like flies that are ever insisting upon sores; the report of good things is like a hue and cry that quickly falls down in the country.
5. The one we tell of with delight; we take little pleasure in talking of the other, yet we ought to testify of the one rather than of the other. Let us witness of the virtues wherewith God hath adorned any. It shall redound to his glory, and it shall be a spur to prick on others to the like.
(W. Jones, D. D.)
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