3 John 1:4
4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
The overriding sentiment with which the apostle John wrote this epistle is joy. From the outset of this epistle to Gaius, John was not hesitant to convey to Gaius his joy concerning him. He wrote in verses 1-3, “The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.” The apostle’s joy was immense, for he said, “I rejoiced greatly”.
The apostle John’s joy reminds us of a father’s joy mentioned in Proverbs 23:24 – “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.” Proverbs 10:1 also mentions that “a wise son maketh a glad father”. Such familial joy should also exist in the church, which is the “household of faith” (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19), where pastors and elders function like “fathers” to the congregation. In Hebrews 13:17, members of the church are told how they can bring joy to their spiritual fathers who care for their souls. It says, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”
It was Gaius’ obedience to the truth of God that caused the apostle John to greatly rejoice. Gaius had been careful to “walk in the truth”. To “walk in the truth” means that one has the truth constantly in one’s mind to influence one’s life, so as to always act according to its counsels. Besides embracing the Scriptural teachings mentally, one ought to live by them.
The word “walk” also denotes progress or advancement; hence “walking in truth” also means that one is progressing or growing spiritually according to the Scriptural truths. The desire of every faithful pastor is that the church members advance in their knowledge, sanctification and fruitfulness. He prayerfully wishes for every member of the church to be like Gaius, whose life had been a cause of the joy of leaders and Christians who had come to know him. Testimonies of his commitment and obedience to the truth had been heard in far places. Christians who are committed to know and live by the truth will have the special privilege and “joy” of being the cause of their pastor’s and fellow Christians’ “joy”.