“I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.
The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings.”
(2 John 12-13 NIV)
As John wraps up his letter to this dear sister in Christ, he closes in similar fashion to his letter to Gaius in 3rd John. John deeply values both of these friendships, and desires to visit face-to-face, rather than via correspondence. Also, in both letters, John passes along greetings from other mutual friends. In this case, the mutual friend is the lady’s sister and her children.
As noted in the opening remarks to 2nd John, this letter was likely written on a single one-sided page. Can you imagine John, as he nears the end of the page, making his handwriting smaller to squeeze in the last of his personal comments? We have all done the same thing, whether it be a letter, a card, a sticky note, or a grocery list on the back of a junk mail envelope… we just need to capture that one last thought.
Again, we see the John’s pastoral heart as he closes this letter. He has so much to say, so much encouragement to give, that he can’t even begin to capture it on a piece of paper. He longs to be able to share it face-to-face, friend-to-friend.
When John concludes his letter to this lady, what is his emphasis? Joy – specifically, that their mutual joy would be complete. Like John, we love to have a phone call or email or even a text from a dear friend, but how much better when we get to see them face-to-face? It’s like picking up the conversation from the last time you got together, even though months or years have passed since you last saw each other.
So what did John see that was missing in this lady’s life? I think John saw several points missing in her life:
- Re-affirmation of God’s Truth. This lady had been through a lot in dealing with the false teachers that she had unknowingly let into her home. She was undoubtedly a smart lady, grounded in God’s Truth, having been taught by John himself as well as others. But she had been through a tough spiritual battle with these deceivers, and needed some encouragement to stick to God’s Word and get some follow-up questions answered.
- Encouragement. Again, this lady had been through a huge spiritual battle to get these deceivers kicked out of her house, and to separate herself from them. This would not only be a spiritual battle, but an emotional one as well.
- Rest. After this spiritual battle, John, as a pastor, knows that this lady could use some rest for her soul, some emotional down time with a trusted friend, a friend that would listen and help her grow spiritually.
And through re-affirmation of God’s Truth, encouragement, and rest, this lady’s joy would be restored. Her tears would be wiped away, the smile would return to her face, the countenance of her heart would be light once again, and the joy of her salvation would once again move her forward. And John’s heart, the heart of a pastor, would rejoice.
So what can we learn and apply from these concluding thoughts from John’s letter to this lady?
- Stick with God’s Word – His Truth. It is our trustworthy guide for life.
- The spiritual battle is real, and fierce. Don’t under-estimate it.
- We are not meant to do life alone. God designed us to do life in community.
- Love and encourage others in their walk with Christ – all of us need joy.
- To accomplish the above, be intentional about spending time together with other believers. We all need it.