“It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it” (3 John 3)
Last week I returned from a visit to a country that is almost half way across the world from here. My friend was getting married and I went there to celebrate with her.
It was a beautiful time, filled with fun and sweet fellowship. I enjoyed spending time with my friends, whom I hadn’t seen in a long time, talking and going out for coffee. The wedding was beautiful. It was a special time
As I prepared to leave, saying “good-bye” was harder than ever. I felt like I was leaving my family behind. When I think about my time there and the way I was welcomed, I thought of Gaius.
The name Gaius was a popular name at the time the letter was written, so it is not easy to say exactly who Gaius was. All that is known for certain is that he was an Elder in a congregation and that the Apostle John loved him. We also know of his character. John addresses the third epistle to Gaius and testifies to his character as well as to Demetrius’ character from what he heard from others.
John wrote that Gaius was faithful to the truth and that he walked in truth. He was faithful to brothers and sisters in the Lord, even to total strangers! John encouraged him to send these brethren on their way in a way that honors God and to show them hospitality.
Gaius was able to walk in the truth, because he was first faithful to it. But. first and foremost, he was faithful to God and to his commands. This, in turn, enabled him to be faithful to others. His actions truly spoke louder than words! He had no need to testify for himself, because others did it for him. Those who came to his congregation, friends, acquaintances and even total strangers were welcomed in the same manner. He showed hospitality and demonstrated The Lord Yeshua’s love for all. We are reminded of the correct order of things from the believers in Macedonia. “And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us” (2 Corinthians 8:5). To the Lord first and then to the brethren. This is foundational and a good principal to apply in our lives. We can serve others, because we have bowed the knees in prayer before the Lord.
I’m sure that we’ve all been to meetings or events where everyone, except us, knew everyone else. We felt awkward and out of place. Have you ever visited a different congregation, where you didn’t know many people? How about a youth group where you are the “new person”, or you were just there for a short while and you probably wouldn’t see those people again? I have. And I’ve seen others in that position as well. Sadly, I’ve seen newcomers sit alone and hardly communicate with anyone, even in a large group. The tendency of most people, myself included, is to greet and socialize with those we know and feel comfortable with. It’s not easy leaving our comfort zone. But Gaius did. He welcomed total strangers, because he saw them as members of his family in God. He “made the effort” to make the brethren feel at home and related to them with brotherly love and kindness. In short, he extended himself to others.
Do we welcome the brethren? Would we welcome a total stranger into our homes and give him/her a place to stay for a while? “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). Hospitality is a gift we all can cultivate. It takes a willingness on our side.
In addition to hosting others, we can help others by going an extra mile – delivering food to a family that is sick or needy, driving someone who has no means of transportation to get somewhere, helping someone to move, helping to clean, and the list goes on and on. Going the extra mile is something I am still learning to do. It is a way of showing love for our “neighbour”. Not helping when we can is simply being “self”-ish, which does not reflect Christ’s love. There is, indeed, much that we can learn from Gaius.
But, John emphasises the godliness of his character by comparing it to the character of Diotrephes, who was the complete opposite, who received no one and put people out of the church.
Am I a Gaius? Are you? I truly desire to be. I want to be one whose faithfulness and love reflects the character of God. I want to reach out and greet those who sit alone, aside from the crowd, or in the middle of a crowd. I want to share the Lord Yeshua’s love, so that others would glorify God glory because of his work in me.
The people I stayed with during my trip reminded me of Gaius. They acted out what they said they believed. They showered me with love and warmth and made me feel as part of their home and family.
Lest we get the wrong impression, Gaius was not perfect. None of us are. But we all strive to be like The Lord Yeshua, the perfect One, who is the best example of all. He left his comfort zone, to make complete strangers, even His enemies, his own.
Will we dare to be a Gaius?
© Hannah Kramer