“Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.” 3 John:8
In our last two bible studies, we looked at what it means to be a sending church. This study continues that theme, but focuses on how we can be a supportive church to those we send.
What does it look like to support well? (3 John:5-7)
It is intentional
John commends Gaius, not just for knowing the truth, but for walking in a way that demonstrates its reality. In practical terms, Gaius is providing faithful support to those participating in gospel work.
There is a sense of effort and energy in this process (v5), with intentional actions to support these workers. This would have meant enquiring about their needs as well as meeting them. It was not a one-off action – the very word ‘faithful’ emphasises a sense of perseverance. I am reminded of Galatians 6:9-10: Gaius does not weary of doing good to his fellow believers.
How well do you/ your church know the needs of your mission workers?
It is loving
Gaius was commended for his love as he gives this support. It was not a begrudging duty, but the outworking of a heart which loves the Lord and puts Him first.
He is encouraged to send these workers in a way that is ‘worthy of God’. This gives the impression of overflowing love, of generosity, honour and willing sacrifice.
What does your support show about your love for the Lord?
It is practical
These workers would have had physical and financial needs as well as the need for spiritual support and encouragement. Gaius is asked not just to meet these needs during their visit, but as they participate in further gospel outreach.
Look at Philippians 4:14-19. In what ways do we see Paul’s needs being met by the Philippian Church?
How do you think the Philippian Church knew about Paul’s needs?
In what variety of ways can your church demonstrate loving care to those serving in mission?
What is the outcome of supporting well? (3 John:8)
John’s motive through this support was to become a partner in mission, a ‘fellow worker’ with them. We are not all able to go to new areas where people have never heard of Christ or to minister in cross-cultural outreach, but through our loving support we can still participate in this vital gospel ministry. We are part of one body, given different gifts which we can use in service for God’s glory (Romans 12:4-8).
Look at Colossians 4:7-13. How do you see this gospel partnership working in practice?
Do you feel like you are truly partnering in the gospel work of those you support? If not, why do you think this is? What needs to change?
Mary Hodson is Women’s Pastoral Worker for UFM Worldwide