3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
The older you get, physically and spiritually, the more true this verse is for you. You realize that the only thing from this world that can possibly be with you in the next is people, and your focus shifts to them. John was obviously talking about spiritual children here, and from that perspective I’m sure he had a huge family. We all have people we care about, whether they are biologically related to us or not. The better we understand what is genuinely important, the more we are going to be concerned about whether those people are walking in God’s truth. We naturally want those people to be healthy and prosperous, as John says in verse 2 that he prays for, but the greatest good we can desire for anyone is that they live in right relationship with their Creator. I have seen many, many aberrations of this, with people caring more about “creature comforts,” for themselves and for others, than they do about walking in God’s truth. If we don’t have the focus right in our own lives, how are we going to have it right in relation to others? Tradition tells us that John lived physically well past 90 (the only one of the original 12 apostles to do so) but there is ample evidence that his spiritual maturity surpassed that by far, and that is a much more important thing for us to emulate. We should be focused first on our own walk with the Lord, (Matthew 7:3-5) but on that foundation we should be doing all we can to help others walk with Him as well.
I can certainly identify with John when it comes to joy. I’m not yet 70, but physical things have a smaller and smaller attraction for me, especially compared to the spiritual. My whole framework of priorities and values has shifted over the years, and I’m grateful. It is distressing when people I care about ignore God and/or flaunt their disobedience to His rules, but I’ve passed through some of that myself, and I’ve seen some people recover marvelously. It’s those stories of recovery that give me joy! I think it’s accurate to say that no one on earth is where they could be, spiritually speaking, but the closer any person is to God’s best for them, the more joy it gives me. Just yesterday Cathy and I were talking about spiritual growth we are noticing in someone, and we were rejoicing. I know it gives my Father joy when I walk rightly with Him, and His joy is communicated to me when others do so as well.
Father, thank You for not giving up on any of us. You’ve been giving us a pretty intensive course in faith and trust over the past few months, and I’m grateful to see some of the results. I pray that we would all walk closer to You in Your truth, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in You so that we won’t get in the way of Your perfect will being done in and through us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!