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
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 to be followed. He is in error and John will deal with him and expose him publicly when he arrives. The Bible makes it clear that our outward conduct says a lot about what is in our heart. The NLT translates verse 11 as follows, “Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.” Those who are children of God will produce fruit in keeping with their profession. Those who are not children of God will reveal themselves as well with works of the flesh evident in their lives. A good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit. Of course Christians can sin. But we are not talking about merely the commitment of a sin or of sins, but rather living in sin. A Christian can and will at times sin, but a Christian will live a penitent life as well. But a person who lives their life controlled by the sinful nature is not someone who is redeemed.