I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
At times, the most loving thing that anyone can do is to tell the painful truth. John was probably one of the most loving of all of the followers of Jesus. His ministry and his writing were centered on the theme of love. He knew how to lovingly engage those he disagreed with. He knew how to care for those in need. He knew best how to love those who were trapped in sin. But when we get to 3 John 9, John hops in the driver seat of the truth bus and rolls over a man named Diotrephes.
Who was Diotrephes? What had he done? Why was John so deliberate in his throwing Diotrephes under the bus?
John knew the truth and loved others. It was his desire that all the followers of Christ learn to live in the theology of Jesus. Although the world lies, and the very heart of man is deceitful, Christ’s followers are to find truth and allow that truth to transform their lives. When persecuted and reviled, vengeance was not to be their reaction, rather, in love, they were to engage their enemies and communicate hope and truth. Beyond that, as Christians we are called in love to be humble. Paul would say it, “Let each esteem other better than themselves.” Jesus was the epitome of these things: love, truth, and humility.
In self-righteous arrogance, Diotrephes exalted himself as the leader of the church. In his mind, he had learned enough and knew enough that he did not need to have any of the apostles tell him what to do. In his holding of the truth, he had missed the most basic thing right in front of him – humility.
John knew that Diotrephes, and those like him would be a destructive force to the kingdom of God. The arrogant self-righteousness for which Christ had berated the Judaistic Pharisees, now was being practiced by those in the Christian faith. John could not let Diotrephes prey on the young growing Christians. He did not want the cancer of vanity and self-righteousness to malign those who were true believers. In defense of truth, John expressed some of the most caustic words of his Christian ministry. Deception is too destructive to ignore, and John had to reveal the damaging lies before others were hurt or ruined.
Food For Thought: What was the main thing that Diotrephes was missing in his life?