Once, when a stubborn disputer seemed unconvinced, Lincoln said, “Well, let’s see how many legs does a cow have?” “Four, of course,” came the reply disgustedly. “That’s right,” agreed Lincoln. “Now suppose you call the cow’s tail a leg; how many legs would the cow have?””Why, five, of course,” was the confident reply.”Now, that’s where you’re wrong,” said Lincoln. “Calling a cow’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
“Loving In Truth Pt 1”
Devotion In motion
2 John 1-6
The Elder, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth,
because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever:
Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.
And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.
This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.
2 John is a mere 13 vs and together with 3rd John are 27 vs altogether. But the little that John writes here in both these tiny books packs a huge wallop. It’s so packed with stuff that, it is so important that we know it, that we live it, that we walk in it. John begins by introducing himself, “The Elder…” These letters were perhaps the last NT books written. By the time he penned them John was 100 years-old – the last living of the original twelve apostles. John’s stature was unsurpassed within the Christian community. He was known not just as an elder, but as “THE Elder.” John was an elder with a capital “E.”
He writes, “to the elect lady and her children…” Some expositors believe the “elect lady” is actually a “sister church.” In the NT the Church is referred to as the Bride of Christ. It’s possible the lady and her children are titles for a specific body of believers. But it’s more probable John has a specific person in mind. Some have suggested both ideas are true. He could be writing to a devout Christian lady who’s vibrant witness had birthed a church-full of spiritual children. No personal names are used because John wrote in a time of persecution. He didn’t want to give enemies of the faith ammunition to target anyone specifically.
John writes “to the elect lady and her children whom I love in truth…” Here’s John’s theme – love in truth. 1 John told us if we love God we’ll love our brother, but here we’re told real love never ignores the truth. God’s love is always in harmony with God’s truth. If ever our love causes us to ignore the truth – if in the name of love we tolerate, or gloss over, or accept a falsehood – we need to realize we’re not exhibiting the true love of God. Real love affirms and supports God’s truth! In today’s “Can’t Offend, Tolerant-Of-Everything, Watered Down World” many churches have adopted a “Love is Supreme, Unity at all Costs doctrine” type of mentality. Nothing is as important as love and peace and unity in the church.
Apparently they’ve forgotten the words of Jesus! In Luke 12:51-53 Jesus said, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” Jesus said He would draw a line in the sand. He confronts us with the truth about God, the truth of life, and about us, and we’re forced to make decisions that will put us at odds with people who make the opposite choice. At times friction even erupts in the same family. Not everyone humbles themselves and receives the truth. It’s been said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” To insist on unity at all cost glosses over the reality of objective truth – God’s truth.
Once a pastor called the kids to the front of the church for a children’s sermon. He taught on unity, He said, “Boys and girls, God wants us all to be one.” A little 4 year-old shouted, “Yea, but I wanna be 5.” To suggest that Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, Mormons should just forget their differences and love one another as “brothers” is ridiculous. As Christians we should love every person and seek to lead them to Jesus, but for us to embrace them as family is to deny the truth that saves us and defines us! Real love will never deny God’s truth! And to suggest it then, really doesn’t matter what you believe – that doctrine is irrelevant – that all that matters is love – is total naïvety about what the Bible teaches!
I believe the notion that truth is irrelevant is straight from the pit of Hell. Your doctrine will determine your destiny! Having love, even faith, isn’t enough – the real question is can the object of your faith save you? Just because a baby can suck a bottle is no guarantee he or she will grow up healthy. It depends on the contents of that bottle! Likewise, faith alone will never save. Faith and love has to be grounded in truth! And that is what John is teaching us here in 2 John. John loves in truth, he writes, “and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever…”
Real truth is eternal. It doesn’t shift from age to age, or generation to generation. It’s unaffected by popular opinion. It’s never trending. It’s absolute and timeless. In verse 3 John extends his greetings to the elect lady and her children, “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. Always remember truth and love make a beautiful couple. They’re married to one another. They go together like a sonic chocolate shake with whipped topping on top. They complete each other.
Verse 4, “I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father.” Apparently, John had been in contact with some Christians who had been discipled by this elect lady, and he rejoices that they’re doing well. This is a credit to her and her ministry. It’s true, a person who walks in truth is more than likely a person who was weaned on truth, but not all. notice he says (some). There were some apparently that were weaned on the truth but have strayed a bit. Knowing the truth is not a guarantee that someone will be saved but it is in knowing the truth, that constantly is in their mind that will give them a choice to choose the Lord and return after a season or a long season. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” It’s a great principle and should bring hope to a Mother or Father whose children have strayed. Her disciples were on a good trajectory because they were straight from the start. They were grounded in God’s truth! “And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.”
1st: Notice love is measured by how we walk – in essence, what we do. Love is a lifestyle. Real love is love in action. If I really love my wife I’ll not just do what’s convenient, or easy for me to do, but I’ll love her in the way she wants and needs love. I’ll aim to please her. And this should be our attitude toward God. Anybody can say they love God, but a real love for God walks according to what’s pleasing to Him. As John puts it, “according to His commandments.”
“This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.” John is asserting, saying in the strongest way, that nothing has changed. From the outset of His ministry, Jesus taught the importance of love for one another. John had reiterated this message…2nd: But real love is expressed on God’s terms – doing His will, keeping His commandments. This was the message “from the beginning.”
Theologian Richard Niebuhr once said, “The great Christian revolutions have come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when somebody takes radically something that was always there.”
We tend to look for new tactics, but it’s the rediscovery of simple truths that lights revival fires. We don’t need a new commandment. We need to put our love into action and it’ll change the world! John is saying that real love is Love in action that is expressed on God’s terms, not ours.
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