Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Letters Of The Apostle John. Day 22, Do Not Imitate What Is Evil But That Which Is Good

John concludes his third letter today by speaking of someone who is making trouble for the believers, then by commending someone who has a good reputation in the church. One of these men is setting a good example and the other is setting a bad example. John urges us to imitate that which is good, not that which is evil.

"I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us." (3 John 1:9) John is writing this letter to his friend Gaius, so we can assume that when he says "I wrote to the church" he means the church Gaius attends. Diotrephes is evidently someone of authority in that local church. When John made an offer to visit the church, Diotrephes reacted with an unwelcoming attitude.

Why is this man refusing to show hospitality to John and his friends? Because, as the apostle says, he "loves to be first". In the KJV we find this verse rendered as "loves to have the preeminence among them". The word "preeminence" is synonymous with "authority, control, power, and supremacy". Diotrephes doesn't want anyone visiting who will take attention away from himself. He's a big fish in a small pond. If someone famous like the Apostle John visits, this prideful man is going to feel jealous of the attention John gets. Instead of being thrilled that one of the personal friends and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ wants to come and meet with his local church, Diotrephes is rude to him and tells him they don't need his help.

John intends to visit anyway, and when he does he's going to make it clear to the church members all the ways Diotrephes is doing harm to them. This man is putting his own selfish interests ahead of the wellbeing of the church. "So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church." (3 John 1:10) Diotrephes doesn't want anyone coming to town who has more authority than he does. He doesn't welcome apostles, preachers, teachers, or missionaries. He makes up lies about anyone who intends to visit. If anyone in the church tries to show hospitality to these visitors, he excommunicates these church members. This discourages others from being hospitable. Who wants to be thrown out of their local body of believers? No one, so Diotrephes has been getting away with a lot of bad behavior.

This man is a bad example of Christianity. But thankfully we have many good examples of Christianity, and those are the people we should commend and try to imitate. Anyone who is a good example will be someone who is trying to imitate Christ---the One who set a perfect example. "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 1:11) Jesus warned us to be on guard against those who pretend to be something they're not. He said, "By their fruit you will recognize them." (Matthew 7:16a) Does the one who claims to be a Christian live as a Christian should live? Or is his life ruled by pride and selfishness? Does his mode of living back up who he says he is? Does he "walk the walk", as the saying goes? Talk is cheap, but the proof is in how a person lives his life. John now mentions a man known to both him and Gaius who is the real deal. "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 1:12) It's thought by many scholars that Demetrius is the man who delivers letters from John to Gauis' church. This man is devoted to the Lord. The very word of the Lord backs up Demetrius' claim to be in Christ, for he has "fruit" in his life that proves he's living for the Lord. This man has a good reputation among the believers. Gaius is to consider him a good example to follow.

John concludes his letter with the promise of visiting the church soon. "I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name." (3 John 1:13-14)

The book of Jude follows the three letters of John, but since we have already taken a look at the book of Jude this year, we are going to move on tomorrow to a new study called "Reasoning Through Revelation". This is going to be an easy, step-by-step guide to understanding the great book of prophecy. We are going to dispel the myth that this book is too difficult to understand. We are going to calm any fears anyone may have that this book is too scary to study. Revelation is Christ's personal message to us regarding the things to come. Revelation describes the glorious future ahead of the church and it explains how God is going to fulfill His beautiful and eternal promises to the nation of Israel. The book of Revelation promises a blessing to those who read it. I wouldn't say no to an extra blessing of the Lord, would you? So please join me for what will be a wonderful investment of time as we study all the wonderful things the Lord has planned for us.

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