Read His Words Before Ours!
As I type, the Men’s Final Four has been set. I am an avid sports fan, and especially love watching college basketball. Even so, I have absolutely NO idea who won the NCAA Championship last year. Or the year before that.
As I thought about how easily we forget (or didn’t even know) the winners of major sporting events, I wondered how many would know even ONE thing about the man highlighted in today’s Journey Study.
Confession: I attended private Christian school from kindergarten to 12th grade, then graduated from a private Christian university. I have been going to church since before I was born, and still I had to look up who Gaius was.
I hoped I wasn’t the only one drawing a blank, so I did an official Facebook poll to see who would know him. Of my friends who responded, most suggested he was a character on a TV show or a historical Roman figure. Those few who made a Biblical reference only VAGUELY knew about some guy Paul wrote about in one of his letters.
At first, I felt bad for poor Gaius.
He lived his life boldly for Jesus, made sacrifices, faced persecution, and endured hardships of many kinds. He traveled with Paul (Acts 19:29; 20:4), hosted home gatherings (Romans 16:23), and welcomed traveling teachers into his home (3 John 1:1-8). He was a dear friend of the apostle John and was actually the recipient of John’s 3rd letter. In it, we discover Gaius was well respected, regarded as a faithful follower of God, and known for his deep love and genuine kindness. Yet, here we are today, barely knowing he even existed, let alone recognize his major contributions to the early church.
In a society where we tend to live for recognition, the idea of not being known, or remembered, seems frightening. We spend our days doing all we can to make a name for ourselves, to leave a lasting legacy, ensuring that generations to come will know us. Heaven forbid we end up forgotten like Gaius.
Recently, I heard a Casting Crowns song called ONLY JESUS. Rather than striving to win trophies and leave a mark the world remembers, the band sings of embracing a much different approach. They suggest a more selfless mindset, “I don’t care if they remember me…Only Jesus.”
I think Gaius must have had this perspective, thousands of years before Casting Crowns wrote a song about it.
You might have heard the verse, “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” I actually have this Scripture hung in our house and pray for my girls to live for Jesus as I pass by the sign, but I had no idea John was writing these words in reference to our man Gaius!!!
In his letter to Gaius, John commends his friend for faithfully serving those who are spreading the gospel message. Gaius doesn’t personally know these people, but because they are fellow believers and administers of the gospel, he opens his home to them. These men have reported back to John about Gaius’ hospitality, and John is delighted to hear how ‘one of his children is walking in the truth’.
Perhaps Gaius understood firsthand how incredible a homemade meal and warm bed felt after a long day of preaching in an unfamiliar city. In Acts 19:29, we read how Gaius was one of Paul’s traveling companions. In the following chapters, we see how Paul and his crew had quite the trip traveling from one city to the next and sometimes back again sharing the Good News. As they traveled, Gaius heard Paul compel other believers to support those who were making sacrifices to spread the gospel.
Gaius took those words to heart.
Having been welcomed into strangers’ homes as he traveled with Paul, Gaius later opened his door to strangers as they worked to make Jesus known.
Gaius didn’t just know the truth.
He walked in it.
What about us?
We have heard the verses about loving your neighbor, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, caring for the orphans and widows.
We KNOW the importance of hospitality, but are we living hospitably?!
When new neighbors move in, do we take them cookies?
When a family at church has a baby, do we bring them diapers?
When we get an email about hosting an international student for Thanksgiving,
do we set an extra plate at the table?
When we see a post on Facebook about the need for foster families, do we go to the informational meeting?
When we are handed a flyer about a women’s clinic and the opportunity to host a teen mom, do we put fresh sheets on the bed in the guest room?
When a co-worker has surgery, do we drop by with flowers?
When our kids are playing at the park, do we set our phone down and chat with moms?
Big or small, our hospitality probably won’t win us any medals or make us famous.
Books won’t be written and movies won’t be made featuring our willingness to be open. Like Gaius, people will most likely forget (or never even know) the sacrifices we make, the gifts we give, or the time and money we spend loving others.
And that’s okay.
Recognition is NOT the goal of living hospitably.
May we sing along with Casting Crowns, “I don’t care if they remember me…Only Jesus.”
May we live like Gaius, knowing that as we open our doors,
God’s love will spread and His kingdom will grow.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!