“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 4
I have pondered this statement by the Apostle John many times. I also concluded that the antithesis is just as true. “I have no greater sorrow than to hear that my children are NOT walking in the truth.” Assuming John had biological children these statements would have been true, but his context has to do with his ‘children’ from the ministry – those he led to Christ and others he had discipled and trained.
For some sixty years John had walked with Christ and ministered to others. At this point in his life, I imagine him as an old man sitting on a rough-hewn bench in a cell on the Isle of Patmos staring out a narrow window upon the Aegean Sea. Though his eyes would have been dim from age, his mind was still sharp. From his heart he translated the bits of news he would hear from time to time into a picture of what God was doing around his world. And as he thought, his heart was overwhelmed with joy for the news of the believers standing for the truth. In contrast, he would have been burdened for those who had walked away. His Savior had also known that pain all too well – the heavy grief over a child of God living for self and the world.
This month marks our family’s Twenty-fifth Anniversary of ministry at BBC. Debbie also reminded me that this July we entered fulltime ministry forty years ago. I remember in Bible college we were warned that we could either experience forty years of ministry or depending on whether we continued to grow in maturity or repeated mistakes, we might just experience the ‘first year of ministry’ forty times! As I reflect on that today, mine is a mixed bag. I’ve grown in some areas and in others I’m afraid I have made the same mistakes over and over. But like John…
“I have no greater joy than to hear (and see!) that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 4
When Debbie and I consider our four sons, our hearts are filled with joy for they are still walking in the truth, they have made wise choices in choosing their wives, they have established godly homes and they are raising the most wonderful grandkids anyone could ever wish! I have no greater joy.
Then I consider the boys and girls, the men and women who have sat under our ministry and with whom we have served the Lord… I have no greater joy than hearing and seeing them walk in the truth! And then there are the ones who walked away – our hearts are heavy for them. However, there is a God Who began a good work in their hearts and He will never let them go too far. Though they are out of our reach, they’ll never be out of His. What’s true about my ‘kids’ is true of yours, too.
Think about it!