Something hit me HUGE last week in our intro week of study to the book of 3 John. Before I get to that “wow moment” for me, allow me to remind us of something so critical in our study of God’s Word.
We’re in this to be changed, not to be entertained.
Change most often is prompted by conviction, and conviction can sting. BUT, without the sting of conviction and the faith to propel us toward repentance which leads to change, our lives as followers of Christ wouldn’t really look much different than those who don’t know Him.
I’m in this for Jesus. I’m in this to know Him more fully and to then make Him known to others. Are there times when Bible study, worship, prayer, and following Jesus feel good? Of course! But that is NOT why we follow after Christ. We don’t run after Jesus to appease our own appetites. We run after Him because He is flat out worthy.
This brings me back to my “wow moment” in study last week. Just to refresh our memories on the book of 3 John, there are four main characters in this small book: John (the author), Gaius (the recipient of the letter who we talked about last week), Diotrephes (the one causing the problems who we’ll talk about this week), and Demetrius (most likely the bearer of the letter).
While Gaius is commended in this small book, Diotrephes is condemned. Gosh, that’s such a harsh word, and if you’re anything like me, you want, no need to know “Why?” Verse 9 gives us a pretty good birds-eye view into this man’s life, and it isn’t pretty.
“I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have first place among them, does not receive our authority.”
The sin of pride leads to jealousy which corrupts the body of Christ.
There it is, my “wow moment.” Diotrephes was a leader in this church, and his fall ultimately led back to the sin of pride in his own heart—He loved to be in the first place among them. Do you see what that desire does? It seeks to remove God from His rightful first place in the church and those whom He wants to use (in this instance, the apostle John and other traveling missionaries). Diotrephes wanted his own voice to be heard, not John’s, so he sought to suppress the voice, teaching, and influence of anyone else. Pride.
Pride is ugly. Pride is a root sin, meaning, as we allow it to grow, it produces so much more filth in us. Pride is a breeding ground for jealousy, envy, division, rivalries, enmity, and strife. I’d love to say that this sin of pride and how it was manifest in Diotrephes’s life was unique to his time, but we know that is not true. A word of wisdom for you and I today is one of warning and caution:
Beware of those who resist authority and seek to make followers of themselves rather than followers of Jesus.
“Condemned” is a harsh word, but so is “evil,” especially when it’s attributed to someone and their character. In verse 11, John goes on to warn Gaius against the evil that Diotrephes is characterized by. He was jealous of John and other believers who were spreading the gospel of Jesus because he was prideful. Friends, fellow believers: Let’s not make this same, fateful mistake. Humility, no matter how difficult or painful, is ALWAYS the better road to take. Always. Elevate Jesus above self. Always.
“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5