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Who are you imitating?


Sermon shared by Greg Tabor

June 2009
Summary: Don't imitate what is evil, but rather what is good. Even in the church and even in leadership we can find poor examples. We shouldn't walk after the example of men and women like Diotrephes. We should instead follow the example of men and women who exhib
Denomination: Assembly of God
Audience: General adults
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are men that have evidently given their lives to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And from this particular profession it is obvious they would receive no help from “the pagans.” In fact they were supposed to be reaching the pagans, not having their income supplemented by the pagans. They should support these men and by doing so become partners with them in their ministry. This reminds me of the blessing we have of having missionaries from various parts of the world come to our church and we are privileged to give them an offering and support them monthly. Beyond that we feed them and put them up in a hotel and insure that they are provided for when they minister at our church. We are obligated to do this and we should do this. We should treat them and others like them with the red carpet treatment.

9I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. 10So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

We do not have the letter mentioned in this verse. Perhaps Diotrephes may have discarded it. What do you think about the description of Diotrephes? It says, “Diotrephes, who loves to be first…” Now, we could preach a sermon on that for a long time. It seems from this text that Diotrephes was evidently a church leader. What was his problem?

- He loved to be first.
- He ignored John’s leadership.
- He maliciously gossiped about John and others.
- He refused to welcome the brothers (the traveling ministers).
- He stops others in the church from welcoming the brothers.
- He puts people out of the church who welcome the brothers.

Diotrephes was on a power trip. The fact that his attitude was one of self-centeredness and unsubmissiveness made him unfit for any position of leadership. It was a bad enough abuse of power that John was planning on personally and publicly dealing Diotrephes when he arrived.

Diotrephes was a hindrance to the Kingdom rather than one who advanced it. From the little mentioned about him, it seems to me that he needed to understand the following words of Jesus:

“25Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:25-28 NIV

Diotrephes wasn’t a servant. He was self-serving. He’d forgotten who the Lord of the Church was and what His agenda was and had turned the Church into a place to advance himself instead.

11Dear 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.

John addresses Gaius as his friend and encourages him to not imitate what is evil but what is good. It is obvious here that John is telling Gaius not to imitate Diotrephes, and others like him. Gaius has not done this, but John is letting him know that Diotrephes is not someone
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