A Gift to Gaius (A Biblical Illustration of Servant-Leadership)

3 John 1:5-7  Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;  (6)  Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:  (7)  Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.

The Apostle John, who wrote five books in the New Testament which include The Gospel of John, 1st John, 2nd John, 3rd John, and Revelation, shows to us in this shortest of New Testament books, a very important attribute of servant-leadership. It is something that, if one is not open to seeing, could be missed completely and probably is missed to the casual Bible reader who is just trying to complete their daily Bible reading and sees the brevity of this letter as an easy task.

As a Pastor, along with teaching Biblical doctrines and practical application of the Bible to my congregation, I often find myself teaching on personal development coupled with leadership principles, so certain words and events tend to stand out to me from those perspectives as well.

In the scriptures above, Gaius is the recipient of this letter and he apparently would take care of travelling ministers as they passed through his town while preaching the Gospel. There was also a church there because John would later have to deal with some issues in that church, which we’ll talk about in a later post.

Gaius was well known by John as being someone who took care of these travelling ministers and Gaius probably did these things without looking for any kind of emotional payoff from others; no likes on Facebook; just good, old fashioned love for God and appreciation for the ministry of the Gospel.

In this world of social media it seems like people think the smallest thought or deed should be recorded, noticed, and praised and so they post it on their social media accounts and wait for the responses to roll in, and there will be people who give those responses even to the smallest and most mundane of things thus creating this never-ending feedback loop among the needy and the needed. While social media can have its place and be a kind of blessing even to the work of God, it is certainly not without its downfalls.

I believe John wanted to send Gaius this letter as a way of not only thanking him for his sacrificial service to the kingdom of God (which would probably have been considered an honor in itself) but by giving him a bigger gift even than that.

What gift is that? The gift to Gaius was feedback. This gave Gaius the “30,000 foot view” of the bigger plan and mission and let him see from way up high (John’s perspective) where Gaius’ efforts fit into that plan and mission down on the ground. As John would put it, verse 8 – …that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. In other words, “Gaius, your personal efforts are helping to ensure that the truth of God’s word continues to be preached and people are given the chance to be saved! Ultimately we are building God’s kingdom and this is how your efforts fit into that!”.

Additionally, it was not just intellectual information nor an emotional outburst of “Yippy, yippy Gaius is awesome!”, but genuine and practical feedback about how Gaius’ personal efforts fit into and helped the greater mission. This is not something that had to be given all the time, nor should it be expected all the time, but it no doubt helped Gaius realize that his efforts weren’t being taken for granted but that he was serving a bigger purpose.

This approach can be applied in any setting where people are involved and it’s something I’m currently working on implementing at my own level of leadership as I also grow and develop personally. I’m sure it was appreciated by the one receiving it because it not only showed he was having a positive impact, but it also showed him where he stood in the heart of the Apostle; something I’m sure meant a lot to Gaius.

Launch Out into the Deep!

I recently saw a video of a moose in a river cooling off when a wolf came out of the woods into the water and latched on to the moose. No matter how much the moose tried to stomp on the wolf, the wolf had latched onto a spot where the moose could not stomp on it…right behind the moose’s front right leg. The moose was able to get the wolf to let go once by holding the wolf under the water until it released its vice-like grip. But, then as the moose ran, the wolf gave chase! The moose ran and ran and eventually began to run out of energy, with the wolf hot on its trail. It wasn’t until the moose ran into the deeper part of the river that the wolf had to finally back off.

This is a great illustration of how that, as long as the Christian stays in the shallow waters of living, the enemy can easily chase after them and, if the Christian is not growing stronger, the enemy can latch onto that Christian’s life in such a way that, no matter how much that Christian tries to fight him, the devil has secured a spot that the Christian cannot reach unless they change the way they do things and decide to go out into the deeper waters of living for God! Thank God the Christian has a deeper place to which they can go and find refuge and strength! That place is in the deep places of God’s strength and protection!

After calling His disciples, Jesus tells Simon Peter in Luke 5:4 …Launch out into the deep… and that’s just what I want to encourage you to do starting today…right now! LAUNCH OUT INTO THE DEEP!

Launch Out into the Deeper Levels of Thinking

                 Contrary to popular belief, Christianity was never meant by God to be an autopilot lifestyle, and yet that’s the way many Christians seem to think about and therefore treat their Christian lives. The world and satan take advantage of this lack of understanding and therefore cause people in Christian churches to think and believe all kinds of things…even unbiblical things!

                 Everyone thinks they’re a “deep thinker” until they have to look at facts and think deeply. Then you find they will spend more time and energy defending the way they have always done things and ignoring, or flat out refusing, to hear anything different!

                 While it is in every person’s human nature to go along with the bare minimum status quo way of doing things, they may even defend their bare minimum level of shallow thinking. This could be in the form of such phrases as “At least I’m saved and on my way to Heaven and that’s enough for me!”. Shallow thinking brings shallow emotions, shallow actions, and shallow reactions!

                 Christians are not called to the shallow end of life, we are called to Launch Out into the Deep! Concerning the things of God, the great Apostle Paul puts it in 1st Corinthians 2:10  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

                 It is in our human nature to want the shallow and easy things of life. This is why we need to be born again and to receive the divine nature of God! Only then can we truly want to launch out into the deep! There is a deeper level of living for God that awaits all of His children who will take the time to cultivate this kind of relationship with Him!

Launch Out into the Deeper Levels of Learning

                 There is great protection in knowing the truth about things! Our Lord Himself tells us in John 8:32  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. When you know something is true, you are protected against believing lies about it and when you know something is a lie, you are protected against believing it to be true! (This entire paragraph bears repeating!)

                 There are so many people who know so much and yet understand so little and it shows in their daily lives. It shows in their attitudes, in their marriages, in their family life, in their professional life, in their financial life, etc. When discussing those who are educated, but are easily carried away by their lusts, the Bible says in 2nd Timothy 3:7  Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

                 I’m not talking about getting so consumed with intellectual knowledge that you can speak Hebrew and Greek but completely miss what’s actually being said! These people know so much about what the Bible says, that they don’t know what the Bible is saying. (Really, they know what it says to others, but don’t seem to pick up on what it’s saying to them.)

                 Ephesians 5:22  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. – Ladies…That’s for YOU!

                 Ephesians 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it – That means He chose love and grace over pettiness! Men…That’s for YOU and me!

                 Ephesians 5:20-21  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  (21)  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. – That’s for ALL OF US!

                 Ephesians 6:1-3  Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.  (2)  Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)  (3)  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. – Children, that’s for YOU until you start your own life and family. Even then you must still learn to honor your parents, even if you don’t always agree. I’m talking about learning God’s intentions and doing them! It’s as easy to understand as John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Launch Out into the Deeper Levels of Understanding

                 Just because we know something, does not mean we understand it. You may know that a car cranks when you turn the key or push the button, but you don’t necessarily understand combustion engines. You may know the cell phone works when you turn it on, but you may not understand how motherboards, resistors, and RAMs work.

                 As God’s people, if we choose to stay in the shallow end of the pool of understanding, then we will not experience the joy of understanding the deeper things of God! There is so much more to knowing God than the children’s prayer of “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soda keep. If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soda I can take!”. We expect that kind of prayer from a child, but not from a maturing Christian who is launching out into the deep!

                 For the maturing Christian, we are told in Hebrews 6:1 let us go on unto perfection… We are also told in Hebrews 5:13-14  For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  (14)  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age (Those who choose to Launch Out into the Deep)even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. The word for “senses” is the Greek word aistheterion which means “an organ of perception”. This explains why there are so many Christians who can memorize scripture and study the Bible, all of which we should do, but still seem to not understand the very basic tenets of God’s word. This leads us into our next section.

Launch Out into the Deeper Levels of Discernment

                 Deeper levels of discernment can only be discovered when first built upon the foundation of deeper levels of learning and understanding (both of which we discussed earlier). In the Bible, discernment, from the Greek words diakrino and diakrisis, means to separate thoroughly; to properly discriminate; etc. My own definition is: the ability to sense the differences between two or more things. These things can literally be objects, ideas, activities, actions, or people (when it comes to people, this also entails being able to accurately sense their true intentions as well).

                 In order to gain this ability to sense the differences between two or more things, we must first learn and understand the word of God. The reason for this is told to us in Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. The more you learn and gain understanding of God’s word, the more you will receive from God a sense of the things of this life and be able to discern between what is good and evil; what is the will of God and your own will. This takes a sense of commitment that many are not willing to give. This leads us into our final section.

Launch Out into the Deeper Levels of Commitment

                 We’re given an illustration of the man who obeys the word of God in Luke 6:48  He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. (For all the women: Proverbs 14:1  Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.). Women have the power and responsibility to help build the house on a deeper foundation as well.

                 The man in Luke 6:48 had to DIG DEEPER than the man in Verse 49 in order for his house to stand during the time of flood and storm! It took a deeper sense of commitment and a deeper act of commitment on his part and it’ll take the same deeper sense of commitment and deeper act of commitment on our parts if our spiritual house is going to stand during the time of flood and storm! No more of this “One two skip a few…” church attendance but fully committed to the cause of Christ! Fully committed from your heart!

                 Jesus didn’t need large groups of people all around Him to make Him feel successful and secure about Himself. I’m sure He was glad when they were there, but He just wanted people to commit and be faithful and He was content even when it was just a few who were committed on a deeper level (which is how it usually was when He preached about commitment). He had a deeper level of personal security from which I think we can all learn!

                 This deeper level of commitment is built upon the foundation of learning and understanding that launching out into the deep and committing is an expectation from God. If He committed His Son to us, and His Son committed His life to us, shall not we do the same for Him?

The Monument of Moral Courage

Matthew 10:34-40  Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.  (35)  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  (36)  And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.  (37)  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  (38)  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  (39)  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.  (40)  He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

In these scriptures, our Lord makes a very clear overall statement. He says a lot here, but overall He’s making it clear that in order to be accepted with Him, we are going to have to have some courage. Courage – The ability to do something that frightens you. The Lord isn’t just talking about any kind of courage here, but a very specific kind of courage and the level of courage of which our Lord speaks will sometimes become very personal to us because having this kind of courage will cost us in ways some of us may not be ready, or willing, to acknowledge. But, He also points out that there is a great reward for choosing to have, and maintain, this kind of courage. The kind of courage I’m talking about is called moral courage!

What is Moral Courage?

In a blog post entitled Moral Courage – The Engine of Integrity, author Michael Josephson defines moral courage as, “…our inner voice that coaxes, prods, and inspires us to meet our responsibilities and live up to our principles when doing so may cost us dearly”1. Every person has an inner voice which they must obey or live out their days in misery and regret. Now, we often teach that as part of our Personal Development classes, about going after that for which you know beyond any doubt your heart longs and burns within you and do it all to the glory of God! But, in this message we want to focus in on the moral courage voice that speak to us and how we must be willing to obey it, as our Lord points out here, or likewise live out our days in misery and regret!

Moral Courage Takes Wisdom And Love

Given that we now understand what moral courage is, and that it calls us sometimes to stand up and say something, we must also understand how to apply it. We apply it through wisdom and love. In other words, we don’t just go around calling out every wrong we see and call that having “moral courage”, but at the same time we are not afraid to speak up on issues when it’s obvious that SOMEONE needs to say something.

This brings to mind what’s called the bystander effect. This is a social psychological claim that individuals are less likely to offer help to a victim when other people are present; the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that one of them will help. In other words, it is more likely that no one will step up. There comes a point at which someone needs to say, or do, something. It takes moral courage and sometimes physical courage to be the one to do so!

The wisdom to know when to speak and even HOW to speak is given from God. James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Moral Courage Takes Patience

By patience, we don’t mean we are to allow evil to just go on and on. There is a point at which we must speak up…that’s the whole point here. Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:37-38  He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  (38)  And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. Sometimes, well-meaning people (Christians included), take this and say something like, “I’m supposed to love God more than my family, so I’m going to set them straight on some things!”

Anytime we have to deal with tough situations, we must remember we are dealing with PEOPLE in the process, not just things. Unlike things, people have feelings, emotions, biases, and most importantly…souls! Those souls are going somewhere in eternity, so let’s remember, while there is a place for firm kindness, let’s remember also to have wisdom, love, and patience in times of having the moral courage to deal with tough things.

What is the Cost of Moral Courage?

Michael Josephson also makes the following observation about moral courage when he says, “It takes moral courage, to be honest at the risk of ridicule, rejection, or retaliation, or when doing so may jeopardize our income or career. It takes courage to own up to our mistakes when doing so may get us in trouble or thwart our ambitions. It even takes courage to stand tough with our kids when doing so may cost us their affection.”

Our Lord puts it this way inMatthew 10:39  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. In other words, “If you have the moral courage to stand with Me, even at the disapproval of some of the most dearly loved people in your life, then it will cost you. It will cost you losing your life in this world, but you’ll gain eternal life with Me!” The question is, which life is more important to you? This life or eternal life? You will not be able to perfectly preserve both. God and the world will see to that!

So, what is the cost of moral courage? It’s the potential of losing your potential. As Mr. Josephson pointed out, “…ridicule, rejection, or retaliation…income or career…trouble…our ambitions…their affection”

What is the Benefit of Moral Courage?

With all this being said, it may seem that having moral courage is not worth the effort, but our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, very clearly points out the offsetting benefit of THIS kind of moral courage when He says, Mark 10:29-31  Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,  (30)  But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.  (31)  But many that are first shall be last; and the last first. So, take heart! As tough as it may be sometimes, your moral courage is not, and will not, be in vain!

Moral courage can also lead to a more virtuous life because, while you’re addressing things in life, you’ll also be lead to address your own life and to “practice what you preach”. We see that moral courage is very important to our Lord! So much so, that He has prepared great rewards for those who exhibit it in this world of toils and snares!

Another great benefit of moral courage, other than the awesome benefits of God, is the monument attributed to you in people’s minds when they think of you. When they say, “Whether I always agreed or not, THEY had the moral courage it took to do the right thing and to address issues; even the difficult ones and even when it may have costs them at times to do so!”

Do you have THIS kind of courage? This is the kind of courage it takes to successfully live for God, or do most any worthwhile thing successfully, in this present evil world!


  1. https://josephsononbusinessethics.com/2016/10/moral-courage-engine-integrity-michael-josephson/