Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. 2 John 1:8 (NLT)
On several occasions in my life God has used this verse as a timely encouragement to stay the course and press ahead into all He has for me. At those times I have taken it as a personal challenge from the Lord to hang in there and not let discouragement or disillusionment have their way. It has helped me appreciate all he has done in and through my life and enabled me to refocus on what is really important.
The sobering truth is that there are ways in which a person can lose what they and others “have worked so hard to achieve.” And that is the concern of the Apostle John in his writing to the unnamed lady and her children in his second epistle. This verse forms the heart of John’s message for them is also meant to be a word of encouragement to all of us.
Although our knowledge about this single parent mom and her family is somewhat limited, we do know that some of her children were believers and serving the Lord along side of her. (vs. 4) We also know that they had the gift of hospitality and used their home to host itinerating ministers of the gospel. In those days, traveling apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers relied upon the graces of hospitable believers not only to provide food and shelter but also a meeting place for them to minister. There were no church buildings as there are now and the church met in homes where the body of believers gathered regularly for worship, prayer, teaching and fellowship. (Acts 2:42-47)
John’s instructions to this “chosen lady” as he refers to her, and her children warns about deceptive teachers and strongly urges them to be very discerning as to whom they bring into their home and allow to teach. (vs. 7 & 10) The explicit nature of John’s exhortation would lead us to believe that perhaps she, and one or more of her children, were also leaders in that house church that they hosted.
John’s caring concern and forthrightness in addressing this family would also lead us to believe that he had a close working relationship with them. His reference to having “worked so hard” on their behalf indicates clearly that he had invested a good deal of time and energy in personally discipling this family and founding the church that met in their home. That is why he was urging them to stand their ground against the deceptive tactics of the enemy. (vs. 7)
In many ways we are no different than this woman and her children. God has chosen each of us and invested the life blood of His very Son to enable us to know and walk in the truth. In addition He has given us unique talents and positioned us to use them in serving Him for His glory. But we also, like them, are subject to subtle tactics of the enemy of our souls that want to rob us of our place of effectiveness in God. And so practically, we need to be discerning as to thoughts we allow and entertain in our minds.
Some thoughts like disillusionment and discouragement are very deceptive in that they distort the truth of who we are in God and what we have been called to do.
And so, from John’s advice in this epistle, here are two good reasons to stand your ground against such deception and not forfeit what God has for you.
1. Others are counting on you. Don’t let them down. (vs. 8a) Often times the temptation to give up is driven by the desire to please ourselves. But when we stop to think about its effect on others we are helped to discover a more selfless perspective. The family of God is interdependent and your role is important to God and to those whom God has knit you in relationship with. (1 Corinthians 12:14-27)
2. You’ve already earned a full reward so don’t throw all that hard work and the years of investment away. (vs. 8b) You are likely just entering into a time in your life when you can begin to enjoy the fruit of your years of faithfulness. Ironically, that is when people are most tempted to quit. In addition we need to keep in mind that God has promised a rich reward, stored up in heaven for the righteous acts of obedience that we have done to please Him in this life. (Matthew 16:27 & Revelation 22:12)
This Christmas season with the year drawing to a close, is a great time to meditate on these two truths. Take some time to thank God for all He has done for you and for the precious people He has placed in your life who encourage you along the way.
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