Verse 4 reads,
“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.”
John was delighted to have seen some of the people walking in truth and therefore glorifying God. When they were living their lives they not only represented the elect lady this letter is addressed to whether she is their physical mother or the host of the church, but they also represented their local church, the city, and the entire church, and Jesus Christ. They were representing well.
They were walking in the truth that Jesus is the Son of God who came in the flesh, lived perfectly, died and rose again. They were not swaying from the truth. Their lives were a practice of that fact. John goes on in to encourage the entire church to do the same by obeying God’s central command. The command that Jesus gave us, but that has been the fulcrum of the entire law from the start. We are to love one another. Verses 5-6 read,
“And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.”
It is by loving one another that we glorify Christ, represent Him and the entire church, and let people know the truth. Jesus said it this way in John 13:3-35,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Remember love is not inactive, it is not mere words, or feelings. Love is concrete. So how do we love one another? How do we best exemplify Christ? We do what Jesus did. We put God first. We put others ahead of ourselves. We remember we are united. We are not separate from one another. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 say,
“Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.”
We are not supposed to be concerned with our individual needs first but the edification of the church, the teaching of Christ, and the glory of God. It isn’t that we are supposed to forget our own needs, but we need to take care of them ahead of time so that when we gather we can embody the love of Christ and build and encourage one another. Paul used the example of Spiritual gifts to get the point across. He said that Speaking in tongues is a good and it builds the individual, but prophecy is better because it builds the church through revelation of truth and knowledge. (1 Corinthians 14:1-19).
In the book of Ephesians Paul encouraged the church to walk in love, by imitating God and walking as Jesus walked. (Ephesians 5:1-2). In Ephesians 5:15-20 Paul spells out how to love one another.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Our actions and behavior matters, not in respect to our salvation but in respect to one another and in demonstrating the truth and love of Christ to the world. It is by our behavior, the way we live our lives that we testify to Jesus identity. The world needs to hear and see the truth. They are getting plenty of lies from everywhere. 2 John verses 7-8 read,
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.”
With all the deceivers out there, we have to be careful to stay in the truth. We can’t let any lies in. Even the seemingly innocuous myths of scripture that get shared take people away from the Gospel. Jesus is the only way to salvation. The devil hates people and will do whatever it takes to keep as many as possible from the truth. The lies that look like sweet little nuggets of happiness are great at leading people away from Jesus and to death.
Fortune cookie scriptures taken out of context, the salt taken out and sugar added are being fed to the masses. The masses find it easier to believe that God will lift them out of their suffering rather than carry them through it. The multitudes want to hear that God will make them rich, or that good people go to heaven, or any other number of “kitten hang in there” phrases rather than the truth. The truth is no one is good enough to go to heaven. The truth is Jesus is the only way. The truth is the Father loves us enough to discipline us and allow the Spirit to transform us through suffering.
If someone is able to tell the world those feel good slogans instead of the truth then they are not abiding in the truth, and that means that Jesus is not in them. That may seem harsh, but sometimes the truth is not so sweet. Verse 9 says,
“Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.”
Associating with the liars who are spoon feeding morsels of tasty accepted sayings is synonymous with joining them. If the world thinks we agree with the frauds then we are saying “yes, chase death down this easy wide path.” Verses 10-11 put it like this,
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”
When you see people who claim to be followers of Christ sharing fortune cookie encouragement, go ahead and straighten them out. Put the verse back in context, untwist it, put the salt back in. If they acknowledge it, they will repent and stop spreading dangerous lies. If they don’t, then you know they do not have Christ, the Spirit is not in them and they are not the Christian they claim to be but an antichrist. Don’t even let them in for a conversation, debate, or a drink of water. It may not seem like love, but love is in truth. Spreading their propaganda is harmful and therefore not loving at all. When you refuse to take part in the lie, you reveal the truth to them and to all the witnesses. That is love.
John ends this letter with verses 12-13 reiterating and personifying the love the church has for one another.
“Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
13 The children of your elect sister greet you.”
Love each other in truth. Love each other genuinely and concretely. Love each other through your behavior submitting to Christ by submitting to one another. Love one another by protecting the truth from the distortions of false teachers, false prophets, smiling spreaders of positive vibes, and other antichrists.