Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of March 4, 2007

3 John v11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. (KJV)
3 John v11 My dear friend, do not follow wrong examples, but right ones. He who habitually does what is right is a child of God: he who habitually does what is wrong has not seen God. (WNT)

There are four people involved in John’s letter. John the apostle, Demetrius the good example, Diotrephes the bad example, and Gaius who seems to be caught between the influence of Demetrius and Diotrephes. Obviously, not all leaders in all churches are there because God has put them there and Diotrephes is a case in point. His evil works included wanting first place, putting those who disagree with him out of the church, not allowing teachers to come who would benefit the church if he didn’t like them, and even refusing to accept the help and counsel of the Apostle John.

Sometimes we say that the only value some people have is to set a bad example so that others will know what they should not do. Diotrephes seems to be someone like that. I have never heard of anyone naming their son Diotrephes, but I do know people who name their sons Gaius and in a few cases Demetrius. Can you imagine the problems with self-esteem that a youngster named Diotrephes might have?

We often say that our teenagers need to learn to handle peer pressure. But obviously we who are older have peer pressure as well. That is why John reminds us that we should not love the world in his first epistle. What is important to people in the ordered society called the world of whom Satan is the head should not be the things that are important to those of us who are following the Lord. And we should put the Lord and his people first rather than putting ourselves first. John emphasizes that one of the characteristics of a Christian is to love his brother. It was quite obvious that Diotrephes loved the preeminent place and wanted to be “boss”. He didn’t seem to care whom he hurt in order to advance his agenda. He did not love his brother.

As Gaius observed Diotrephes and Demetrius, there should have been no question as to whom he should be supporting. I think the Weymouth’s New Testament has paraphrased this right. 3 John v11 is not a general statement about how to live our lives but is a specific statement about whom we should support and follow in our spiritual lives. Follow the one or ones who are good, and not the one who is evil or bad. We will know the evil one when he acts like Satan who is the king of Evil Ones. But sometimes it takes courage to stand up to an abusive self-willed leader.

The Lord was the supreme example of what a leader should be. It has been said that you can’t lead until you learn to follow. The Lord was equal with God and yet submitted Himself to God. In the garden He said, “Not my will but thine be done (Luke 23:42).” He humbled Himself and became obedient to death (Philippians 2:8). He came to serve not to be served (John 13: 1-17). He gave, he didn’t get. He loved, He didn’t hate. He died that we might live when He could have lived and let us die. Those of us who have trusted Him should desire to be like Him. Obviously, Demetrius had that reputation but Diotrephes did not.

I often wonder if godly men could honestly tell our friends and acquaintances to follow us because we are doing what is good. Are we seeking the best for the Lord and for others or are we seeking what we think is best for us?

Follow the one who is good and not the one who is evil. That is true when it comes to following the Lord instead of following Satan who rules this in our present social system. It is also true when it comes to imitating our spiritual leaders.

Bruce Collins

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