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. 3 John, verse 11.
Remember context. Without doing that, reading this verse alone seems pretty bleak, right? “Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” That’s everybody, believer and un-believer alike. Remember to keep it in context of what was said before it.
Here’s some context I just heard about. A girl named Talia Castellano died yesterday morning. She was a 13 year old Youtube sensation with inoperable bone cancer. With the spirit and spunk that only an optimistic kid can show, she blogged her cancer journey and used it as a way to help others. Rather than dwelling on losing her hair to chemotherapy, instead, Talia became an internet model of sorts, focusing her web posts on ways to be creating with makeup, swag, and all she did. Her last year of life proved to be inspiring instead of debilitating to the soul.
One thing she said last year (in talking about her disease) really struck me: “”Having cancer has been a gift–but a horrible, horrible, terrifying thing. But I’ve gotten so many benefits from it. …The journey of having cancer was amazing. But every journey has an end.” What a powerful statement of faith that is, and what great practical evidence it is of what the apostle John was talking about. Miss Castellano wasn’t swayed by her affliction, even though she obviously stated how terrifying it could be. She didn’t let it break her even as it slowly killed her. She showed how doing what is good is a God-glorifying thing. Millions of people around the world saw her as a symbol of the human spirit through her blog, through articles written about her, and through her appearances on TV with Ellen DeGeneres.
Talia Castellano rejected the evil that cancer is and opted to fight it through wit, determination and beauty. Today, she’s alive and well in heaven.
The context of today’s verse is a commentary on the verses written before it; taking it out of that context makes it seem hopeless because we all do things that are apart from God. Miss Castellano – and all those like her – didn’t choose cancer and it wasn’t her fault that the evil disease plagued her. Yet where she could have allowed herself to wither and slip away, instead she opted to live the rest of her life positively, as an example of being strong in the things God gave her. That made her look at the dread disease as a gift instead of an undeserved curse.
God bless Tania and all those like her. Our prayers and love go out to her family.
Lord, thank you for the gifts of affliction in our lives. Strengthen us to keep them in context, then to rely on You to use them as a springboard to growing Your glory.