TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21
SCRIPTURE: 3 JOHN
This letter is the shortest epistle in the original Greek. But it is full of important stuff for us to consider. In many ways, this short letter is the story of three men.
The first one is mentioned in verse 1. Gaius was a good man who had a great reputation in the church. He was an exemplary Christ follower. As you read the first three verses it is obvious that John thought the world of Gaius. John referred to him as the beloved on several occasions.
In verse 2, John speaks a prayer over Gaius. Basically John prayed Gaius would have a good life with good physical health and strong spiritual health. That is a great prayer that we should pray for a lot of people.
From what we know, Gaius was probably not a preacher or teacher in the church. He probably was a layman who was very involved in ministry. He ministered to the church. He ministered to people that were not in the church. He saw to it that the right people had the right financial support. Gaius is the kind of guy every pastor wishes he had in his church. In fact, most pastors would love to have a church full of people like Gaius.
And then we get to verse 9 and meet a man named Diotrephes. Diotrephes was like the polar opposite of Gaius. Diotrephes was a prideful, arrogant rascal who wanted to rule the church. In fact, it seems that when anyone had the audacity to disagree with or oppose Diotrephes, he kicked those folks out of the church. God never intended for His church to be ruled by dictators. God’s intention was His church would be led by shepherds.
Diotrephes also refused to submit to apostolic authority. Remember John was one of the apostles and verse 9 says Diotrephes would not acknowledge John’s authority. But worse than that, Diotrephes was talking all kinds of nonsense about John undoubtedly trying to ruin his reputation and cause the church to turn away from John.
John’s response was if he revisited the church, he would confront Diotrephes and deal with the problem. The vast majority of pastors (me included) don’t like conflict. Indeed the vast majority of pastors (including me) have a tendency to let issues continue that should be confronted. But the church desperately need brave people who know the truth to defend the truth even if that means confrontation. Sometimes the only way you can deal with a Diotrephes is confront his heresy head on and not back down.
From there John speaks about a man named Demetrius. Demetrius is much more like Gaius and much less like Diotrephes. He too had a good testimony in the church. That means that he lived out the truth of the Gospel in such a way that others respected him and appreciated him.
At the end of the day, every church has its own Gaius, Diotrephes, and Demetrius. But every church needs their own Gaius and Demetrius to corral and correct their Diotrephes. The church’s reputation hangs on their willingness to do that. And ultimately the reputation of the Gospel hangs in the balance as well.