“The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth;” (II John 1)
The second and third epistles of John are generally much less appreciated and referenced than the first. Although I John is a penetrating work which confronts each reader with the need to consider the fruit of their own salvation, his second and third letters challenge Christians today as well. And that challenge begins with the very first verse: “The elder to the chosen lady, whom I love in truth.”
Right from the very beginning of II John, the esteemed elder continues his theme of the priority of love, which punctuated much of his first letter. Here he specifically references it in regard to an “elder” (referring to himself here, although it could refer to any pastor or church leader) and the church (the “lady” he mentions is undoubtedly the church, “the bride of Christ.”) It is notable that the first thing he mentions about his relationship to this church is his LOVE for body of Christ: “whom I love in truth.” The great responsibility of the elder or the church leader is to LOVE Christ’s church! Ephesians 5:25 tells us that “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” As a pastor (or deacon, Sunday School teacher or other ministry leader) your greatest duty to the church is to LOVE it, like Jesus does, as His representative on earth:
— Your church is not a “rung on a ladder” for you to climb as you further your ambitions for position or renown.
— The membership are not be considered mere “targets” to be lambasted by your harsh words in messages.
— They are not “sources” for your financial gain through increased salary or business connections.
The church you serve consists of the people chosen by the Lord of Hosts, and for whom He died. These people are to be LOVED by you as they are by Him. As you prepare a word for them, in sermon or Bible study lesson, ask God to help you prepare a message to be shared in LOVE. Ask Him to grow in you the first fruit of His Spirit (love, Gal. 5:22) so that as you visit and minister to people, you do it from genuine concern, not merely as a “responsibility” or PR effort. May God give us the grace to be able to sincerely say of God’s church, as John did here, that we love them in truth.