Hospitality. It can be defined in the dictionary as the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. So, what does it mean to have the spiritual gift of hospitality? The gift of hospitality is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to provide an open house and a warm welcome to those in need of food and lodging. We see this modeled In 3 John through a man named Gaius.
3 John is written in that same 85-90 AD time frame by John before his exile to Patmos. It is a personal note to Gaius. This guy gets his own personal note of encouragement and thanks from John IN the Bible! How Gaius served the traveling teachers passing through was so significant that it was included as a part of the greatest book ever written. This isn’t by mistake but by design from the Lord because there is a lesson or two here that we can learn from, take to heart, and apply to our own lives.
Gaius was just a member of the congregation that opened up his home on a regular basis for traveling teachers and missionaries. His reputation was known for friendship and generosity, and hospitality is who he WAS, not just what he DID. The way that John writes to him shows that he has genuine care and love for him. Some scholars say this may have meant that Gaius had hosted John before.
There are three kind of themes that run through this short little book. The first one is obviously hospitality. John wrote this, yes to Gaius, but also to encourage those who were kind to others. This act of hospitality was a very needed thing in Biblical times because there weren’t a lot of hotels or Air BnBs for people to stay at. There wasn’t a Chick-fil-A or a restaurant on every corner for these traveling teachers to eat at, so it was up to the people of the church to open their homes.
The second theme we see here is pride. John talks about a man named Diotrephes who he describes in verse 9 as a man “who loves to be the leader.” That statement just made me laugh. This means that he had instilled himself as a leader of the church. Diotrephes not only refuses to be hospitable but he encourages the other members not to be also, and when and if they do open their homes to these traveling teachers, he tries to kick them out of the church. Obviously his pride disqualifies him from being a good leader and he is misusing his self-given power.
The last theme is faithfulness. John thanks Gaius for his faithfulness, not just to the traveling leaders but to the Lord and his faith. John mentions a man named Demetrius in verse 12 saying that everyone speaks highly of Demetrius and we can say the same, as you know we do not lie. Many scholars think that Demetrius may have been the one who carried the letter from John to Gaius. Either way, John had to know him well to vouch for his character in such a way.
As we end this book, can we just take a moment to reflect and ask ourselves, which man do we identify with? Are we like Gaius, generously giving to others? Are we like Demetrius, loving the truth? Or are we like Diotrephes, only looking out for ourselves and our things? Let’s determine to reflect Christ’s values in our relationships, in opening our home to others and spreading His love.