What are you known for?

I attended the funeral of my friend’s father yesterday and enjoyed listening to the eulogies and hear of people speaking well of this man even though I didn’t know him myself. He sounded like a man I would have enjoyed meeting.

Also this week I went to speak at a meeting where I was introduced in a way I have not heard before. Usually the focus of the introduction is on what I have done or the things I am involved with now. But I was refreshingly introduced as ‘he is a nice man’. Now some would have wanted a far more elaborate introduction but not me. I felt honoured actually.

Often we wait till someone has died to speak well of them. It is of course the right thing to do in order to honour their life. But let us use life-giving words in life as much as we can and let those we are speaking of hear them.

This is something of what is happening in these next 2 verses as we come to a close of John’s letter. Writing to Gaius who is holding on to the orthodox teaching of Christ, John is sending another friend, Demetrius, probably to deliver the letter. John is appealing for Gaius to continue to do good which we have seen is to offer hospitality to these missionaries he keeps sending to the churches. As opposed to Diotrophes who rejects them, Gaius welcomes them into his home.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.” (3 John v 11-12)

Clearly not everyone speaks well of Demetrius because Diotrophes opposed everyone from John. Literally if your whole world speaks well of you then perhaps you are not fulfilling the calling God has laid on your life. However, the people who really know you, are you a nice person? Do people speak well of you?

There are moments when I respond in a way that isn’t something I am proud of. I will say, “I’m not bothered what people think about me” but not only is this not helpful it isn’t correct. I am bothered. In my life and in my death I do want to be known as ‘a nice man’ without compromising God’s call on my life and the difficult decisions that this means, I do think that the description given is an honour greater than other awards.

What are we known for? How would people introduce you now and how would they say good-bye to you when you part this world? “A nice man” is a great achievement!

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