Summary: John contrasts a God centered Christian with a self centered Christian.
In the book of Third John, we read a tale of three Christians - Gaius, who John commended; Diotrephes, who John saw as cantankerous; and Demetrius, who John cited as being consistent in His walk with Christ.
Last time we considered what John has to say about Gaius - a commendable Christian. Now today, let’s look at what he says about the other two believers mentioned in this brief epistle.
1. “Diotrephes - A Cantankerous Christian - vs. 9-10
A. John speaks about the attitude of Diotrephes - v. 9
“Something that is hard to keep under your hat is a big head.” - Anonymous
Diotrephes seems to have been this kind of person. John said that it was obvious that Diostrephes was a man who was obviously full of himself.
An article entitled “How To Be Miserable,” says: If you want to be miserable there are certain things you can do.
1) Think about yourself.
2) Talk about yourself.
3) Mirror yourself continually in the opinions of others.
4) Listen greedily to what other people say about you.
5) Expect to be appreciated.
6) Be suspicious.
7) Be jealous and envious.
8) Be sensitive to slights.
9) Never forgive a criticism.
10) Trust nobody but yourself.
11) Insist on consideration and respect.
12) Demand agreement with your own views on everything.
13) Sulk if people are not grateful to you for service you have rendered.
14) Shirk your duties if you can.
15) Do as little as possible for others.
Seeing ourselves as the center of the universe always leads to misery, because we weren’t made to be the focus of our own attention. Neither were we designed to be the center of everyone else’s attention. When we insist on that, guess what? We make everyone around us miserable! Because Diotrephes was unhappy, he was intent on making everyone around him unhappy, too! There is only one person who is meant to be the constant focus of our attention.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” - Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)
Too many Christians tend to live with God at the periphery of their lives and with themselves at the center of their personal universe. True peace, and lasting happiness is found, however, when the Lord is at the center of our universe. Only then will everything else be in proper orbit around the Lord, my friends, my family, my marriage, my career, and myself.
B. John speaks about the activity of Diostrephes - v. 10a
“Wise men know more than they tell; while foolish men tell more than they know.” - Anonymous
Diotrephes was foolish. He is an example of the pseudo-intellectual, who, according to Dwight D. Eisenhower, “Is someone who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.”
Diotrephes liked to pass himself off as one who knew “the scoop” on what was going on in the church, but he really didn’t have a clue. But because he thought so much of himself, he was determined to not let not knowing the facts keep him from being heard. After all, he was sure everyone wanted to hear his opinion!
“Fewer people are interested in what we think than we think.” - Anonymous
C. John speaks about the approach of Diotrephes - v. 10b
Diotrephes’ approach to work in the church was to battle until he got his way. Diotrephes was the kind of guy who always found something wrong with the leadership in the church and could never get along with the leadership of the church, nor with anyone who supported them.
Consequently, he was always “stirring things up.” He was a fellow who could be pretty well described by the comment that H.B. London made concerning Cain, “Cain had a problem with God, but he took it out on his brother.”
D. John shares his assessment of Diotrephes - v. 11
The legendary church consultant and author, Lyle Shaller used to say that he estimated that on any given day, 3/4 of all churches’ ministry is significantly reduced because of nonproductive and destructive conflict. He said that conflict is so severe in 1/4 of those churches that it has to be reduced before the church can even accomplish anything.
John gives good advice on how to stop a lot of conflict within the church. John’s counsel is to avoid people like Diotrephes and not imitate their example. Too often, the Diotrephes among us are rewarded when we give them more attention than they deserve. Instead, Paul echoes John’s counsel and tells us to disciple the Diotrephes among us through avoiding them.
“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” - Romans 16:17 (NIV)