Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.3 John 5-8
At the end of both his 2nd and 3rd letters, John says that there was much he had to write to them, but instead of writing whatever it was he intended, he addresses a more pressing issue his recipients face. John wrote 2 John to warn a local church about false teachers who were coming to deceive them. He instructs them not to welcome these deceivers, not even to let them into their homes (2 John 10–11). He writes 3 John to instruct Gaius (presumably someone senior within another local church) to do exactly the opposite for true gospel workers. Unlike Diotrephes, who refuses to welcome them (3 John 9–10), Gaius ought to welcome and support true brothers and sisters in Christ (3 John 6, 8).
Specifically, John tells Gaius to show hospitality to ‘such people’ (verse 8) referring to those who ‘have gone out for the sake of the Name’ (verse 7, ESV). John’s talking about missionaries. He wants Gaius—and likewise, us, who should imitate what is good (verse 11)—to partner with missionaries by caring for them while they are with us (verse 8) and sending them on their way with the support they need as they continue on their missionary journey (verse 6). In so doing, we are joining with them in the work that they are doing for the truth—the proclamation of God’s Gospel.
For us in Cape Town, which isn’t really a layover stop as missionaries move from one place on to their final destination, we can do this by showing hospitality to our missionaries who have come home for a short while to rest and recuperate, and by supporting through prayer, encouragement, and finances those who have gone out for the sake of the Name to other countries all over the world. Our support for our gospel partners should not be half-hearted but a real labour of love in a ‘manner that honours God’ (verse 7).
Just in case it’s not obvious why we should support missionaries like this, John hints at a number of motivations for us. Firstly, it is a faithful thing to do for our brothers and sisters—even if they are strangers to us they are our family and we should treat them as such (verse 5). Secondly, it flows out of and testifies to our love (verse 6a). This is something we’ve seen is a common thread through 1, 2, and 3 John that marks us as genuine believers. Thirdly, these fellow workers are doing this for the sake (or glory) of God’s Name (verse 7). How could we not want to join in any efforts that bring glory to God! Finally (from this text anyway), missionaries don’t accept any help from the people they are taking the Gospel to (verse 7). This is a principle Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 11:7–9. He did not want to charge a fee for his preaching but instead shared this good news for free. But even Paul still depended on the generosity of other churches to support him financially; we should do likewise today.
‘Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God.’ (verse 11)
Heavenly Father, thank You for those men and women whom You have called to the global mission field and who have responded eagerly to Your call. Thank You that they are proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ for the glory of Your Name. Thank You that we can partner in them with their mission. Help us to show hospitality to those who are at home with us. Help us to support those who have gone on their way in a manner worthy of You. Amen.