11/13/S – Imitate What is Good

Hosea 8:1-9:17; 3 John 1:5-15; Psalms 125:4-5; Proverbs 27:15-16

NT: “Dear friend, you are acting faithfully in whatever you do for the brothers and sisters, especially when they are strangers. They have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such people so that we can be coworkers with the truth. I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have first place among them, does not receive our authority. This is why, if I come, I will remind him of the works he is doing, slandering us with malicious words. And he is not satisfied with that! He not only refuses to welcome fellow believers, but he even stops those who want to do so and expels them from the church. Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God. Everyone speaks well of Demetrius — even the truth itself. And we also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true.” (‭‭3 John‬ ‭1:5-12‬ ‭CSB)

In 2nd John, John warned the “elect lady” to not welcome deceivers and false teachers into her home. In this letter, John brought up the subject of being hospitable to fellow brothers and sisters who were ministers of the truth. In those days, itinerant ministers would travel from city to city and church to church proclaiming the gospel and teaching the word of truth. They would stay in the homes and were supported by fellow believers. They did not pander to the secular world for aid, and received support from the believing community. In order to legitimize their ministry, they would carry letters of accommodation from their sending church and other believers that knew them. It was through those letters that other believers would know they could be trusted.

Word had gotten back to John from many of these itinerant ministers that Gaius had been very hospitable to them, treated them well, and had generously supported them. John commended Gaius for his hospitality. However, there was another person in their fellowship who was not so welcoming.

Diotrephes, for one reason or another, had a position of influence in the local church. Instead of being a humble and servant-hearted leader, Diotrephes had become a dictator. Dictators, in order to stay in power, will shut down and silence anyone who opposes them or thinks differently than them. That was exactly what Diotrephes was doing. Apparently, John had written something to the church that Diotrephes did not agree with. It could have even been a letter correcting Diotrephes’ behavior. Instead of considering the words of John – one of the original disciples who actually walked with Christ – he rejected John’s letter and began a campaign of slandering John’s name and reputation. Beyond that, Diotrephes refused to welcome in outside voices of truth into the church and even excommunicated those who would offer help and support to anyone that he did not approve of.

There was a good chance that Gaius would run afoul of Diotrephes and suffer for his generous hospitality to fellow believers. John wanted to encourage Gaius and confirm to him that what Diotrephes was doing was evil. It is one thing to reject deception and heresy. It is another thing to reject a proven and respected voice of truth simply because you do not agree with them. By accepting only those who agree with you and not welcoming in the refining power of the word of truth, you end up locking yourself into an echo chamber of your own making and falling into deception. It was good and right that Gaius was welcoming in other proven believers – other trusted voices – other legitimate perspectives on God’s manifold grace. Therefore John said, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good.

Finally, John mentioned another name: Demetrius. Gaius was not alone in his well-doing. There was another brother who was doing good and walking in the truth. All of the believers spoke well of Demetrius. Even the word of God commended Demetrius. And John himself spoke well of Demetrius, as well. If there was someone for Gaius to emulate and take encouragement from, it was Demetrius. When we submit ourself to the fullness of God’s truth – not just the parts we agree with – God will encourage us, lift us up, and give us partners to walk with and older brothers and sisters in the faith to emulate. As we walk in truth, we must make sure that we imitate what is good.

Prayer: Lord, I thank you for the voice of other trusted believers – proven brothers and sisters in Christ – in my life. While I am to reject lies, deception, and heresy; I am to welcome in the voice of truth into my life, even if I don’t like what it has to say. I thank You that through Your Holy Spirit, You give me the ability to discern the voices to accept and the voices to reject. Help me to not imitate evil by surrounding myself only with voices that agree with me, but to do good by welcoming in and supporting voices that agree with You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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