The Apostle John wrote some epistles at a time when apostasy was threatening the Church. Even though it had been only a few decades since the death of Jesus Christ, false teachers were offering a different doctrine from that offered by the Apostles.
In 3 John, John writes to to Gaius, commending him for walking in truth and for having charity on both the Christians and on strangers. Clearly, Gaius had unselfish devotion to good.
In contrast, John berates Diotrephes, who loves to have preeminence among the saints, but “receiveth us not” but instead lifts himself up above the congregations of the Lord (footnote leading to Numbers 16:3). Diotrephes was a local leader who refused to recognize John’s authority.
I think John’s words can inspire modern-day Saints who remain faithful to Apostolic authority despite opposition.
In verse 11, John reminds them to:
“follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
This sentiment is echoed at the end of The Book of Mormon, when the final writer Moroni says
“Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
“But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” Moroni 7:12-13
Pretty straightforward, yes? I think that deep down we each know what is good and what is not.
But are there gray areas? Of course, and we don’t always have the wisdom to see the effects of different choices. Thankfully, like in John’s day, we have Apostles that clarify truth. I’m super thankful for both the ancient scriptures and modern communication to help us in our search for truth and good and right. President James E. Faust said:
“There is a certain arrogance in thinking that any of us may be more spiritually intelligent, more learned, or more righteous than the councils called [by God himself] to preside over us. Those councils [of modern Apostles] are more in tune with the Lord than any individual person they preside over.”
So let’s not be Diotrephes and think we can reject Apostolic revelation because we are smarter or cooler or whatever. Let’s be like Gaius and have charity to all while walking in truth.
My favorite thing about this letter is that in it we see John’s love for others and the joy he felt for those who were choosing a life of obedience and adherence to truth. I get this. When I see people seeking truth, accepting it, and sacrificing for it, I’m inspired. People every day change their lives for the better and turn away from false traditions or beliefs. It’s very courageous. We live in a world with great contrasts, and I want with this post to honor those countless souls who are courageous in following truth. My kids are among them, and I feel as John wrote:
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:4
This is a good time to honor one of my favorite Apostles who walked in truth and took joy in teaching it all his life, Elder Packer. He was reassigned last week and will surely continue his mission in heaven.