Study #3 (2 John 4)
Gladness When Believers Walk In Truth
So far in this series of studies we have considered the first three verses of Second John.
1. The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth,
2. because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:
The “elder” is probably the Apostle John who was writing to this elect lady and her children as he expressed his love in truth for them. John’s love and this letter which it produced, are anchored in God’s truth. Since truth and legitimate love are ours by God’s grace, we are assured that these amazing provisions will be with us forever.
John then pronounced God’s blessing upon them.
3. Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.
John declares these things as certain expectations that will be with us as believers. Grace is God’s unmerited favor that redeems his people by nothing they earned. Mercy is God’s tender concern that comforts and restrains many causes of misery and suffering. All the objects of God’s grace are redeemed. Not all who are the objects of mercy are redeemed. The mercy of God toward the reprobate is extended as a sovereign Governor to ensure a better environment for his people and the successful unfolding of his eternal plan. Peace is that inner tranquility God gives his people that helps them through even very tragic circumstances.
These three blessings are ours from God alone, who is the source of all blessing. Together, truth and love create the environment in which grace, mercy and peace abound.
John continued his opening comments to this elect lady and her children.
4. I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.
Some of this lady’s children were walking in truth.
Walking in truth is a good thing. This is similar to what John wrote to Gaius in what we know as his 3rd letter. 3 John 3, “For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.”
Walking in truth refers to a person’s behavior. These children didn’t limit their religion to the Sunday worship, or to their lives at home. They kept it up as they went about their work and interacted with others. Their lives were lived daily according to God’s revealed truth.
Truth is not just what people believe it should be.
It’s defined by something objective, not by just what feels right or that fits in with what we already believe. If John had said, “I find some of your children are very busy” it wouldn’t have been much of a compliment. Moral truth, and understanding who God is, and who we are must be based upon Scripture. It’s tragic when we or our children live lives based on what everybody else is doing, or by just what they want.
The lost world around us looks at a different test for truth and actions than that which we should consider as God’s people. Many have used the excuse “the ends justify the means” to excuse their improper behavior. In our “results oriented” world people often charge ahead based on false assumptions. God’s word not only sets goals for us, it also tells us how to get there, what means we should use. Our prayer is that our children will take that path in life, walking in the truth.
Many politicians promote things that win votes rather than what will really secure a safe and free society. Churches often design worship and their programs by what improves their attendance and budgets, rather than conforming to the patterns revealed to us in Scripture.
Walking in truth is not defined by measuring our popularity or material success. It’s when we walk the path God sets out for us in his word. To do that we need to know God’s word well enough so that it directs us toward proper convictions and actions.
Individuals for the sake of pleasure often rush toward immoral and immoderate practices. Moses had the opportunity to live a luxurious life when he lived in Pharaoh’s court in Egypt. But he took consideration of the the results in light of God’s principles and promises of a coming Messiah. Hebrews 11:24-26 tells us, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”
In contrast many people, rather than looking at the tragic results and offense to God such things produce, determine to rush head-long into foolish things, popular things, just to get some results that will impress others and make them feel good for the moment.
Good training begins in the home. It’s the work God assigns to parents.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 Summarizes this commandment to parents, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
As a child grows he builds on that early learning. His foundation is both the lessons and the examples he hears and sees in his parents and other relatives. The influence of his pastors, teachers, friends, and co-workers should also help him direct the path of his life.
If the foundation is well laid in God’s word at a young age, then when action is needed, the principles of God’s truth are available to guide him. With the blessing of God the Holy Spirit at work in his heart, the truth of God directs his path so that he will be found walking in the truth. He will be able to set aside indecision, and will not charge ahead making quick careless choices.
1 John 2:3-6, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
Why does John speak of just some of her children?
It’s sadly true that some of our covenant children wander from truth, though they were taught well. They sometimes struggle foolishly against God’s commandments. Some may even totally reject the lessons they have learned. When our children wander off the path that honors the Lord, it reminds us that we are redeemed by grace, not by inheritance. We continue to pray for those wayward children that God would use the lessons of their youth to stir them to repentance. The truths they were taught will be there to haunt them all the days of their lives. They will not be able to escape from that testimony. Proverbs 22:6 assures us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
John may not mean that only some of the elect lady’s children were walking in truth while others were not. He may only have had information about some of this lady’s children. He could only comment on those he had heard about. He may not have heard reports about the rest of her children.
John responded with gladness.
Hearing that these children were faithfully living according to God’s words made John rejoice. We need to be glad together when we see others doing well. Teachers and church leaders should rejoice when the sheep of their flock honor the Lord with their lives, and they see the rising generation carry on the wonderful message. It’s encouraging when we see that we have been a part of serving Christ in building his kingdom. Parents should rejoice when they see their children learning to live humbly before the Lord.
We should take a lesson from John’s comment here. We should look for opportunities to encourage parents when we see their children doing well. It’s also good to encourage teachers and church leaders when we see their work prospering in others.
We ought to work at finding such opportunities that build up and strengthen God’s people. The Apostle Paul often did this in his letters, even in his more harsh ones.
Romans 1:8, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.”
1 Corinthians 1:4, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,”
1 Thessalonians 1:6-10, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
Philippians 1:3-5, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
This is a principle God’s word teaches us. We need to put considered effort into encouraging other believers to be thankful for what God is doing in their lives, and to press on serving one another in ways that honor and please our Lord. Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works”
So how ought we rejoice together? Pay attention to recognize the work of Christ in other believers. Rejoice in God when we see him at work in other Christians (even though their obedience will always be imperfect). Be an encouragement to parents and those who teach as you see the ones they work with walking in God’s truth.
Bob Burridge ©2017
Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted