By Shawn McMullen
“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 12).
We don’t know much about the disciple named Demetrius. He’s mentioned only once in the New Testament, in John’s third letter.
Some suggest he was the courier who delivered John’s letter to Gaius, but that’s speculation. We do know one thing about him. He enjoyed a good reputation among his brothers and sisters in the church.
John described him as “well spoken of by everyone.” It seems everyone who knew him admired him. I’d like to think Demetrius lived such a blameless and holy life, and was such a devoted follower of Christ, that he gained widespread respect among the believers of his day.
That would be enough. But there’s more.
After mentioning Demetrius’s good reputation among the believers, John added that he was well spoken of “even by the truth itself.”
That statement intrigues me. How can the truth speak well of someone?
Seems to me it was John’s way of saying Demetrius lived out the truth, and the truth bore witness to his character.
It’s good to have people affirm your character; but frankly, people can be wrong. Have you ever looked up to someone as a model of holiness and godliness, only to discover later that you were mistaken? It happens frequently.
But when truth itself affirms your character—that’s foolproof. I think that’s how Demetrius lived. He loved truth. He internalized it. He lived it. When you do that, you can’t go wrong.
Truth has the final word. Reputation isn’t the same as character. You can have a sterling reputation. People can admire you and speak well of you. But inwardly you can lack integrity and do good things for selfish reasons. You can be spoken well of by others, but not by the truth itself.
God knows our hearts and he can’t be fooled. “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).
We’re responsible to know the truth and live it out—in our personal lives, in our relationships, and in our service to God. How can we know if we’re living like this? We can’t always discern this on our own, but we can pray with the psalmist, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24).
God searches our hearts when we ask him, but he won’t do all the work himself. He expects us to examine ourselves. To read, study, and meditate on his Word—to mine the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are found in Christ (Colossians 2:2, 3). When we do this, we can expect to be spoken well of, not only by other believers, but by the truth itself.
Shawn McMullen serves as editor of The Lookout.