"5 Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, 6 who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth."
- 3 John 5-8
This month is missions emphasis month at Hope Bible Church. For the next few weeks, our Sunday services will include reports, updates, and encouragements from missionaries supported through our church. As such, our memory verses (3 John 7-8) are missions themed. These verses, and those that precede them, are an exhortation to faithfully support brothers and sisters in Christ as they bring the gospel to new places. As we continue to meditate on these verses, consider the practical ways they challenge us to join God’s missions and assist his workers. This passage instructs believers to love, receive, send, and support our fellow ambassadors for Christ.
Loving the Brothers
When John writes this letter to Gaius, he starts by rejoicing that Gaius is walking in the truth (vv. 3-4). One of the specific ways he was living faithfully for Christ was by laboring to serve the brothers that had recently come to him. In so doing, Gaius was testifying of his love for Christ and His church. Gaius was doing that faithfully, because when those believers came to John, they testified about his love. Like Gaius, when we care for our fellow believers—especially those serving as gospel emissaries—we do faithful work before our savior!
It is worth noticing, though, that our love must start with love for Christ and His mission! We must value the message so deeply in our hearts that the thought of unreached people pangs us. This love-motivated yearning for people to hear the good news ought to visibly overflow into our tangible care for ministry workers. Remember Jesus’ own words, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me (Matt 25:40).” Consider your efforts to serve missionaries, ministry workers, and simply your siblings in-Christ. Do you love Christ and His gospel so much that others see and testify of your faithful care? Ask those who know you best and prayerfully consider where you can grow.
Receiving the Brothers
A second challenge that these verses issue relates to receiving our fellow workers. To echo Paul’s line of questioning in Romans 10, how can we send them if we do not first receive them? John tells us in verse 5 that Gaius didn’t know the believers he welcomed. They were strangers in appearance, but siblings in Jesus. Gaius received his brothers-in-Christ with joy and gladness. The first way we can demonstrate our love for the mission (and the mission-giver) is to receive His workers with joyous hospitality! If you are a pastor or leader in the church, invite missionaries to come and share their ministry. If you aren’t, encourage your leadership to do so. When missionaries and ministry leaders come, welcome them! Invite them into your home, buy them lunch, learn about their ministry, get to know them, pray for them, provide for their immediate needs, lavish kindness upon them, and express gratitude for their work. See that they are welcomed in such a way that they can’t help but recount your generosity and love as they talk with other believers (v. 6a).
Sending the Brothers
Next, we ought to consider how we send forth Christ’s ambassadors. These brothers and sisters are working hard to reach new people with the beautiful message of redemption. When they leave us for their mission field, they will go and tell others the good news and charge them to walk “in a manner worthy of God” (1 Thess 2:12). We would do well to make sure they are sent “in a manner worthy of God (v. 6b).” If they lack resources, materials, prayer-support, workers, etc., their ministries will suffer. For us to send them well, we must aid them as they go on their way so that they can serve Christ with fewer stumbling blocks when they get there. How do you help in the sending of missionaries in your context? Do you pray for them? Do you financially support them? Do you devote other resources to their cause? Do you do it all out of obligation, or with a joyful desire to send them “in a manner worthy of God”?
Supporting the Brothers
Finally, in verses 7-8, we find that we “ought to support” those who “have gone out for the sake of the name.” We send them in a manner worthy of God, but our support does not end there. We should continue to support them in their work so that the harvest they reap might be even more bountiful. That could mean prayer support or practical support by efforts such as dispensing volunteers to help in the ministry. However, financial and need-meeting support seems to be the emphasis here. These workers have gone out for Jesus, we don’t want them to be distracted by financial needs. We don’t want them to charge for their ministry but to present the gospel without stumbling blocks or hindrances. While Paul took up tentmaking to fund some of his ministry efforts, isn’t it great when we can fully support missionaries so they can devote themselves to the teaching and preaching of the Word? We, like Paul, want to “present the gospel free of charge (1 Cor 9:18).” The best way we can do that is to support our brothers and sisters when they go and for the duration of their going! Prayerfully consider your resources and how you can use them to advance the gospel through the ministry of fellow believers.
Fellow Workers with the Brothers
When we do the things that these verses instruct, we do a faithful thing. But wait… there’s more! When we support our brothers and sisters in advancing the gospel, we become co-laborers with them. By supporting them, we are serving the people they reach vicariously. Like a company share-holder, we have a stake in the game! Are you a fellow worker for the truth because of your loving support for those who have gone out for the sake of the name?