3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
The longer I am in ministry, the truer this is. Of course this applies to my physical children but they are greatly outnumbered by my spiritual children, and that is what John was talking about. (Of course, in my case my physical children are also among my spiritual children, so it all applies anyway.) When we look at things from God’s perspective we understand that material things are fleeting, but human souls are created to be eternal. That’s part of being created “in God’s image.” Our time on earth is to give us the opportunity to choose love and obedience toward God, which means choosing eternity with Him. Those who choose otherwise are eternally separated from Him, which is a fate more horrible than we can grasp at this point. That’s why it’s such a joy to know that people we care about are walking in God’s truth. That doesn’t mean just knowing what the Bible says, it means applying it, walking it out, in everyday life. If we are doing that ourselves we understand what a blessed thing it is, and we desire it more than anything for the people we care about. If we are failing to do it, at the very least we won’t be very effective in leading others to walk in the truth! Walking in God’s truth is a foretaste of what heaven will be like. As Jesus said, as long as we’re on this earth we will have troubles, (John 16:33) but when we are walking in His truth we can have “inexpressible joy.” (1 Peter 1:8)
As I have come more and more clearly into this understanding, I need to arrange my priorities accordingly. Anything that will lead others into walking in God’s truth is worth doing, and anything that will be negative in that area is certainly to be avoided. And the longer I live, the better I understand that very few things are really neutral. This is part of understanding what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:17) The more I walk in the truth myself, the clearer the path is before me, and the easier it is to guide others into it. An Internet acquaintance of mine was a missionary in Central America for several years when circumstances forced him to return to the US. Right now he is making a return visit, and the joy in what he writes, at having found his spiritual children walking in the truth, fairly leaps out at you. I find myself wondering how things would be if I were in similar circumstances. Everyone’s journey is different, but we are all called to walk in the truth of God each step of the way, and to encourage others to do likewise.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the joy You are giving that brother. Thank You for the joy You give me through my spiritual children. I pray that I would be increasingly effective in leading them in Your truth, so that together we may be and do all that You intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!