This is the shortest of the books in the Bible having only 13 verses in a single chapter so it’s easy to skip over it and not give it much attention but there are a couple of good things to learn from it.
I’ve been a parent for a few years now and it is always a great delight to me to hear from people that they have spent time with my children and been impressed by their work, integrity, attitudes, helpfulness or manners. Like all of us they’re not like that all the time but nonetheless it’s great to hear that some of the strict regime of teaching I’ve put them through has paid off! I jest of course, I’m not particularly strict, but good parenting does require a foundation of boundaries and well-grounded principles. It was clearly a real delight to John to be able to report back to his audience, “The chosen lady”, that he had come across some of her, “Children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded.” (v.4). It makes the business of being a parent, or a church leader, or a Sunday school teacher, Youth worker etc. all worthwhile. It’s a good reminder that as we lead others in the ways of Christ it does everyone well to remember that encouragement has the power to change the world. To be completely honest you can encourage people to do bad things that change the world for the worse every bit as much as you can encourage good to change it for the better. The point is that John had seen the good in them and he wanted to encourage that.
The second point he made was that there were a number of teachers around who were teaching false doctrines and he wanted them to be careful to avoid problems by allowing that teaching to get into what was an otherwise good church or community. As we ‘do’ church together its’s a great reminder that we need to be careful about who we allow through our doors to preach and teach. Or who we listen to on TV or radio. Or even which commentaries we read. There remain many who have dangerous ideas about doctrine and practice so we must be certain that we test everything we come across to ensure it stands up to the measure established by Jesus.
Lord Jesus please grant us the gift of discernment. Help us to know what is from you and what is not. Grant us the strength to persevere in seeking the truth and the wisdom to recognise it. Help us Lord to be encouragers of others. Amen.