Finding the middle road
3John : Model the good.
Second John is written to a congregation and one of the primary themes there is a warning concerning false teachers who take advantage of well-meaning Christians. Third John is written to an individual named Gaius and one of the primary themes concerns this otherwise unknown believer’s good heart and hospitality to traveling Christian teachers. One letter then provides balance to the other. Christians aren’t to be gullible and stupid as we live in a world that has more than its share of wicked, predatory people. At the same time we aren’t to be so afraid or so calloused that we lose sight of what it means to be people of God who model our lives after one who “went about doing good.” Apparently that’s what’s happened to one man who’s mentioned by John in this letter. Diotrephes, who “loves being in charge” learned the don’t-be-gullible lesson so well that he forgot the practice-hospitality lesson. In Gaius, then, we meet a man who’s found the middle way and his hospitality to God’s people prompts the writing of this short letter. One of the challenges of the Christian life is avoiding the extremes mentioned in this letter and finding the balance where we “model the good.”
Take Away: Christians have to find the balance between being easy targets of those who take unfair advantage of others and, at the same time, being caring, compassionate people.
Luke 10: Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.
When their friend Jesus arrives everyone at Martha’s house is excited. They love Jesus and they can’t think of anything better than spending some quality time with him. Mary is quite literal about that. She stays in the room where Jesus is, hanging on his every word. Martha, though, feels a sense of responsibility to make her guest comfortable. In fact, she’s frustrated with her sister for not pitching in and helping with the meal Martha’s preparing in honor of Jesus and his disciples. It’s as she busies herself with these practical matters that frustration grows to the point that having Jesus there becomes secondary to her feeling of aggravation. I can just imagine it: many people, including Mary, are in the living room listening to Jesus when the door bursts open and there stands Martha. Without meaning to, she interrupts Jesus, demanding that he order Mary to help her. Our Lord responds to her with an ever so gentle rebuke. I’m so glad that his rebuke is a gentle one because I identify with Martha. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no cook and I’m certainly not known for having the gift of hospitality. However, I do sometimes get so focused on the nuts and bolts of things that I miss the big picture. Maybe you’re like that too. Maybe you can’t give yourself fully to the worship service because the guy running the video keeps getting the words out of sync. Maybe you spot cobwebs under a pew or notice that one light bulb in the chandler is still burned out. If you tend to focus on stuff like that you have to join me in appreciating the fact that the rebuke Jesus gives to Martha is, at least, a mild one.
Take Away: Sometimes it takes a bit of self-discipline to focus on Jesus rather than some of the minor distractions of life.