A New Year – it is mine (and yours) to do with as we please. Though I don't really consider the content of this article to be a “New Year's Resolution,” I couldn't think of a better one to make.
The beloved apostle wrote, “I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.” (2 John 1.4-6).
First, even in the midst of terrible news, John found a reason to rejoice greatly. The bad news was, “...many deceivers have gone out into the world.” (2 John 1.7). The good news was, “I have found some of your children walking in truth.”
Both from the words and from the context, I take it to mean that those who are walking in truth were in a class or condition that was entirely different from the deceivers who had gone out into the world. For the one class, John rejoiced; for the other, he expressed regret. Again, the good news is simply this: It is entirely possible for a person to be legitimately found “...walking in truth.” The battle is not so hard as to make it impossible. Ordinary folks were capable of and consistently found to be walking in truth.
Having the favor of God is far greater than having the favor of men. In fact, the two conditions are not even on the same scale; it is indeed like comparing apples to oranges. Having the consistent favor of God is relatively simple as I have come to understand it. Having the consistent favor of men is all but impossible. An Old Testament example relative to today's text will conclude these thoughts.
Hezekiah was the 14th king of Judah. His father, Ahaz, was wicked and did not walk after the ways of truth; rather he worshiped and served idols, even offering as a sacrifice one of Hezekiah's brothers (2 Kings 16.1-4). Hezekiah is noted for his resolve to remove the pagan gods that were embraced by Israel. However, Hezekiah not only removed the recognized pagan gods, he also removed the “silent gods” that had crept into Judah's theology and worship. Centuries before Hezekiah's birth, Israel had been miraculously spared from a great plague by looking upon a specially prepared bronze serpent. Although Israel lost many important artifacts over the years, that bronze serpent was not among them; it was a revered object in Judah at the time of Hezekiah's reign. One of the most courageous acts of Hezekiah was to destroy that serpent, calling it a mere thing of brass (2 Kings 18.1-4)!
However, Hezekiah was not without his faults. On a couple of occasions he foolishly allowed the Lord's enemies to view the treasures of the temple, acts which led to the eventual stripping of the items of value from the national treasuries of Israel. In spite of his humanity and the errors that such entails, Hezekiah was a great man. From what would have otherwise been his deathbed, Hezekiah prayed, “Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what is good in Your sight.” (Isaiah 38.3). God heard Hezekiah's prayer and saw his tears (Isaiah 38.4-5). As a result, God extended Hezekiah's life by some 15 years!
Walking in truth isn't perfection; it is simply placing one's foot in the right place time after time! That is what I resolve to do and so should all who have any hope of finding favor in the God's eyes.
1. According to John, who had commanded that believers “walk in truth”?
2. What is the relationship between walking in truth and love as expressed in today's focus text?
3. What did I describe as one of Hezekiah's most courageous acts? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
4. Christians all belong to a “one step program”; we just resolve to make the next step a step of truth. How different is that perspective from one of attempting to live a life of perfection?
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