Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;2 John 1:5
Let our one unceasing care be to better the love that we offer our fellow-creatures. One cup of this love that is drawn from the spring on the mountains is worth a hundred taken from the stagnant wells of ordinary charity.
2 John 1:8
'We are all taught by interest,' says Stevenson in his first essay on John Knox. 'And if the interest be not merely selfish, there is no wiser preceptor under heaven, and perhaps no sterner.'
References.—I. 6.—T. Arnold, The Interpretation of Scripture, p. 293. I. 7, 9.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. v. p. 292. I. 8.—T. Binney, King's Weigh-House Chapel Sermons, p. 240.
The Man Who Loses His Past
2 John 1:8; 1 Kings 16:34
The rebuilding of Jericho is the first step, historically, towards the destruction of Jerusalem. The taking of it had been the key to the conquest of Joshua The raising again of its ruined towers was the sign of national decay and approaching death. Like the pointer on the barometer, nothing in itself, it signified everything.
It is another Israel than followed Joshua. Omri and Ahab occupy the thrones of David and Solomon. Religion is decaying. Idolatry is advancing. The memory of Jericho is faint and far away. 'In these days did Hiel, the Bethelite, build Jericho.'
But if faint in memory, the curse of Joshua has not lost power. As soon as the foundation is laid, it shows its power. The eldest son of the founder dies. We can fancy the neighbours recalling the old curse, and dissuading the rash man from his work. But all in vain. He perseveres. The gates are set up. Once more the prophecy is fulfilled. The youngest child dies amid the inauguration of the new city.
But the loss was not Hiel's only. It was national. A victory had been lost. The old towers of Jericho once more lifted their heads, a witness to national decay. The record of faith had been destroyed. The defeated enemy had returned.
I. This is the thought I wish to dwell upon, 'the man who has lost his past'. 'Look to yourselves,' says the Apostle in our other text, 'that ye lose not the things ye have wrought, but that every man receive a full reward'. Every man, like every nation, has great moments in his history; triumphs of faith, times when the veil which lies upon him is removed, and he sees with open face the glory of God. 'These things,' says John, 'are yours'. They are things you have wrought. They have entered into your sinews and muscles, as the swinging blows on the anvil have entered into the blacksmith's arm. But these victories may be lost. The iron muscles may become fatty and feeble. Conquered Jericho may be built again. Things you have wrought may be lost for ever.
It is sad for a man to be false to any experience, sad to have to say that any great moment in his past was a delusion and a mistake; but when that comes to be the case of his great religious experiences, of the deepest moments of his life, it is sadder than death.
Yet such people are not always conscious of their loss. It has come like the rebuilding of Jericho, slowly and gradually. No visible foe has done it. No: they have done it themselves. Silently, like the Temple of God, have the walls of worldliness risen around their souls. God has spoken, perhaps in family trial, as was the case with Hiel, perhaps in the still small voice of conscience; but the message has been disregarded. They have not been faithful to their past. They have 'lost the things they had wrought'.
II. There is a curious contrast in the way men grow old. Have you ever noticed it? Here is a man who grows harder as the winter of life draws near. His life is one long process of disillusionising. He is always finding men out, so that now he believes in no one—and as a result no one believes in him. He has a great contempt for women. He thinks men are naturally selfish. Life is a struggle for survival. There is no such thing as disinterested love. At the bottom of every action man is thinking of himself.
Why should growing old mean to some losing faith in one's fellowmen, interest in life, joy and hope; finding the heart close in with bitterness till death comes as a welcome release? And why to another does old age mean a growing younger, a mellowing and a softening, a larger life, a brighter faith, a clearer hope? It is because the one has lost something the other has held. The one has lost that first faith in God which is the ground of all faith in man. The other has held to it, held firmly amidst sorrow, discouragement and temptation, and thus found it in the end what every one who holds it will find it, 'a full reward'.
—W. Mackintosh Mackay, Bible Types of Modern, Men, p. 17.
2 John 1:10
Choose your companions with care, for there are people just as contagious as a disease. At first you cannot tell them even when you see them; he looks to be a man like everybody else, and, suddenly, without being aware of it yourself, you will start to imitate him in life. You look around—and you find you have contracted his scabs.
2 John 1:12
'If it be the least pleasure,' Pope wrote to Swift, 'I will write once a week most gladly; but can you abstract the letters from the person who writes them, so far as not to feel more vexation in the thought of our separation than satisfaction in the nothings he can express.'
2 John 1:12
I do indeed look back with much wonder and thankfulness to the intercourse with you which inaugurated this year for me. There is so much in the interchange of conviction, even if we receive nothing fresh.
—F. D. Maurice, to Erskine of Linlathen.
To become a pleasure-yielding person is a social duty.
For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.