Imitating What Is Good

Open Your Bible

3 John 1:1-15, Matthew 20:25-28, Hebrews 13:1-6

“I’m being bullied.”

I’m ashamed to say I didn’t believe her at first. I know a good mother ought to give her daughter the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her word against the world’s, but my instinct was to push back anyway.

“Are you sure? What did he say exactly? What did he do exactly?

I peppered her with questions as we drove down our favorite winding road, our minivan pointed toward home. She held her ground, insisting a kid in her grade was mistreating her, via verbal insults and the occasional kick or shove when walking past. A few days and a few more reports later, my posture toward the tale quickly changed. I went from skeptical (“Oh, I’m sure he didn’t mean it”) to certain (“Tell me his name again, Imma call his mama”) REAL FAST. Someone was pushing my dear child around, and that was not okay.

Fortunately, my daughter, though thirty years my junior, handled the situation with more grace than I would have. She even informed me today that she and her nemesis are now becoming friends. Kids are awesome that way.

In his last letter to the church, this one addressed specifically to his friend Gaius, John gives one final contrast to highlight the truth of the gospel. He juxtaposes Gaius’s faithfulness to the gospel to a man named Diotrephes’s rejection of it.

Oh, Diotrephes was “in” the church. In fact, he fancied himself to be quite a powerful figure in the church—so powerful, he took it upon himself to decide who was in and who was out. Forget that whole “for God so loved the world” thing—Diotrephes had a better idea. He would welcome who he wanted to welcome, and he would push out who he wanted to push out (3John 10).

Bullies like Diotrephes often seem to get their way. They kick and shove and call names until their victims slink away, feeling defeated. Unfortunately for them, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a power play. The biggest and baddest have no advantage here. The gospel calls us to surrender, to decrease so that Christ might increase (John 3:30).

The message of Christ does not need us to lord our power or position over others to intimidate them into belief. No, the gospel calls us to love and to service (Matthew 20:26). It invites us to stay the course, to walk in the light, one foot in front of the other (3John 4). Jesus is not a taskmaster who demands a ransom in exchange for our freedom. He Himself became our ransom; He is our freedom (Matthew 20:28).

I haven’t kicked anyone out of church lately (or ever), but I’ve played the part of Diotrephes in my own life. I’ve tried to twist the gospel into something that works for me, replacing biblical teachings that don’t fit my preferences with ones that do. But the gospel will not be rewritten. It is Truth, with a capital-T, immutable in its truthfulness and irreversible in its effect on those who believe it.

As we come to the end of John’s letters today, take to heart his encouragement and his earnest plea: “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good” (3John 11). Walk in Truth. Walk in light, imitating what is good as displayed by our Savior, Jesus Christ. Don’t mind the bullies. Whether they come dressed as self-appointed gatekeepers or as lies from inside your own head, they do not speak for God.

Keep going. Keep close to Jesus.

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45 thoughts on "Imitating What Is Good"

  1. Shonda T says:

    Walking in the truth reaps rewards, but sometimes distractions come and change your path….GET BACK ON TRACK, GOD STILL LOVES YOU!

  2. melonee says:

    Never thought “lies inside my own head” to be a bully. Wow that puts my thoughts into perspective.
    Lord help the words I tell myself be loving kind and uplifting.

  3. Tara Beatty says:

    All of your words are so encouraging. You ladies cannot even begin to understand how your words impact me each morning. Your grace, wisdom and love of God are a blessing to my life. The comments pull all of the scriptures and devotion together and just, well…bless. This is love. Prayers for all of you the Mother’s Day! And to those that are not physically mothers, prayers for you and all of the children in your lives that you impact daily, weekly, yearly.

  4. Susan Crosby says:

    Do not imitate evil but imitate good. John wishes to see them face to face. The Lord is my Helper and I have nothing to fear from man. These are things I thought about from the reading especially during these uncertain times of the virus pandemic.

  5. Liz A says:

    Amen Amen AMEN!!! Praise God! This was such a good & very needed reminder

  6. Jessica Nicolas says:

    Amen and amen. Just keep walking in Love and Truth! ♡

  7. Liza Jane says:

    Diana Fleenor, yes, please do! I just feel that so many people do not know what message they are sending through social media, especially during this time.

  8. Kat Cowell says:

    This has been such a convicting study, with wonderful reminders to keep walking with Christ, in the light, in the truth, in His love. I need to hold onto that every single day, and I need God’s help to do so. And as I read that verse “I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in truth”, it made me so grateful to God again for all the people God has used in my life to bring me to faith and help me stay the course. My parents, sisters, mentors, friends and many others. While I don’t have children of my own yet, over the years I have also had the privilege of mentoring and discipling lots of young girls and women, and it truly is a joy to see so many of them still walking with the Lord. Some are not, and that breaks my heart, but I continue to pray for them because I trust that God can turn lives around and bring renewed change to even the hardest hearts. It’s also made me think of the joy He must experience as He sees His children walking in truth. I only ever want to please God and bring Him joy, and these parts of scripture have so encouraged me to keep seeking that in my life. Thank you for all your comments, prayers and encouragements. It has been wonderful to read scripture with this beautiful community!

  9. Eliza Ruth says:

    I was recently bullied at work and HR did nothing except defend him and force meto continue working with him on a daily basis. Thanks to the stay at home order in our state I have gotten a reprieve from him the past month because he is working from home. I’m just trying to lean into Gods grace until the day when I can transition to the next chapter God called me to.

    1. Sheila Ezell says:

      Hang in there Eliza. Just turn it over to God and let it go. I will praying for you. I pray when he returns to work he will have a changed heart and will be kinder to you.

    2. Camille English Davis says:

      I’m so sorry for what you’ve been experiencing Eliza. And I’m grateful for the opportunity the stay at home order is providing. I pray that as you stand your ground and refuse to be bullied, that the righteous judgment and favor of God be bestowed on you. Blessings…

  10. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I find it interesting that during this time of isolation, we are all reaching out to those around us to try and meet their needs. Whether their needs include a toll of toilet paper or a word of encouragement. I pray that after this is all over, the world will remember that we are always in this life together. I pray the church would be an example of hospitality.

    1. K D says:

      Yes yes yes

  11. DOROTHY says:

    Krystle thank you for your prayers you can never have too many.

  12. Krystle says:

    Dorothy, I just wanted to say that I admire your strength in this time, encouraging your sisters when you’re going through a hard time yourself. I know that it comes straight from the Lord! I’m praying hard for you and your family, for provision, peace, and strength in this time, and that God will wrap His loving arms around you all. ❤️

  13. Leah says:

    This study has really been working on my heart. Some days I have left it feeling refreshed and encouraged, and other days I have left wondering if I am doing “enough.” Have I walked in the truth enough? Have I loved my family and friends enough? Yesterday and today’s readings remind me that those are the wrong questions to be asking. When I ask if I am doing enough, I am focusing on myself, and God never tells me to focus on myself. He calls me to walk in truth and to know Christ’s teachings (Jon 8:31-32). And He reminds me that He is the one who gives growth to my efforts (1 Corinthians 3:7-8). I want to let brotherly and sisterly love continue, and to know how to do that, I need to be in His word and know His truth.

  14. DOROTHY says:

    Traci and all the others struggling to stay the course through the hard and frustrating times, God, Christ and the Holy Spirit will never, ever leave your side. You can talk to them 24/7 and they won’t care. They have your back. They are with you always believe me I know I have traveled the hard road several times and they have been there. I’ll be praying for you and keep the faith.

  15. DOROTHY says:

    Churchmouse I would like to add those who have strayed to come back and those who no longer believe.

  16. DOROTHY says:

    Walking in the light of the Lord at times seems easy and other times seems so hard. The Lord has shined His light on me so many times but I don’t know that I have always acknowledge or recognized it. For instance right now I am one of the lucky ones in that I have a job, I am a nurse but I am not a nurse on the front lines. I also feel that the Lord has shined His light on me with a loving and caring family. When my niece/roommate died my sister and I were devastated and also were going to have some financial problems. My two brothers stepped up and said not to worry they would help — they said that is what family does. My parents raised us that we are to help each other as much as possible. My father learned that from his parents who helped their families. Even though my family can’t physically be with my sister and I they have called or emailed regularly to check on us. I have friends who do the same also. This is what I would call walking in the light.

  17. Mari V says:

    Yesterday afternoon I felt quite embarrassed and convicted but at the same time my heart filled with joy. I guess being female it’s OK to have all these different emotions all mixed up at once. My daughter and I had quite the squabble yesterday. My son who is home from college (and the only man in the house) sat us down and the three of us talked it through. I know that it’s not his job as he is only a very young adult but as he spoke truth into our lives, we accepted it, prayed, and worked it through. GRATEFUL for the amazing young Christian man that he is becoming. My heart!! 

  18. Kathleen says:

    Praying for Tanner and his mother in anguish. Gentle Jesus hear my prayer.

  19. Diana Fleenor says:

    Liza Jane, I meant to say your post from yesterday’s study.

  20. Diana Fleenor says:

    Liza Jane, I hope you might see this comment. I was wondering if it would be okay with you for me to copy and paste your post about teachers and families understanding each others situations and needs? I have a couple of teachers on my Facebook who might benefit from hearing your message.

  21. Lisa Z says:

    Traci, we stand with you in prayer. How difficult it must be. You are here, right where you need to be. No looking back! We al need support sometimes which is why we are called to meet together. We cannot do this journey alone, we are not meant to. Prayers on the way for your family. Rest in His arms. He has you and your son covered in his love.

  22. Diana Fleenor says:

    Churchmouse, I thank you for your prayers for your own children and ours as well. I’ve been praying for my daughter and son-in-law to surrender to Christ fully. They do not have a church home and have had an inconsistent Bible study and prayer life (though professing Christians). Several months ago my daughter asked to do a Bible study with me and I was thrilled! God was opening a door through my many prayers. As it’s been a slow process to get into a consistency with her, I’ve had moments of disappointment. COVID-19 threw off the pace even more for awhile. However, just this week, she has re-engaged and the (written) conversation is getting deeper into the recesses of both our hearts. Please continue to pray for us as mother and daughter meet together to learn and grow in Jesus. Thanks!

  23. Alexis says:

    “Walk in Truth. Walk in light, imitating what is good as displayed by our Savior, Jesus Christ. Don’t mind the bullies. Whether they come dressed as self-appointed gatekeepers or as lies from inside your own head, they do not speak for God.”

    I needed this today. Often the lies in my own head seem to have more control over me than God’s truth. This is a good reminder to cling to the word of God, knowing that what He speaks is the truth, not the thoughts that seem to speak louder at the time. God is light. God is truth. God is love.

  24. Traci Gendron says:

    I’ve very much enjoyed this study. As Angie put it, “there is no neutral in the life of faith. I had become neutral. A very big regret. I needed other Christian friends to walk in love next to me during a very difficult time. My son has a fatal illness that has brought me to my knees in agony at times. I stopped trusting God. I want to walk in love to show others going through something so painful that God is here, loving us. Help me to be that light. To stay the course. Not drift away as I did in my past.

    1. GramsieSue . says:

      Oh Traci, what a difficult journey you are on. My heart hurts for you. And I pray that your faith and trust increase throughout so that you can help others. Stay He course. Your name is on my prayer board. ❤️

  25. Maura says:

    Kelsi, He is all you need! He loves you. You are so dear to His heart. Tina from across the pond, you are lovely and full of His light and love. Angie your words bless so many I picture you as a warmth so full of Jesus that the children who get to have you as their teacher run to you for hugs. Churchmouse such wisdom you share, what a gift to speak your heart. praying for our children, grandchildren to find salvation forgiveness in His truth. Blessed Beth you remind me I too am so very blessed by our Loving Lord. So blessed by all of your words Sisters. Today’s message hit me in the distinction between Gaius and his love for the Lord and service of other believers, especially the stranger. and Paul’s instructions to be “coworkers with the truth. Love what is good and hate what is evil.” from 3John 6:1-15 Amen! Thankful that our Savior wants us to be His coworker to bless join the Truth to bless others. His peace and joy to you all.

  26. Traci Gendron says:

    Churchmouse, thank you. My dear son, Tanner has an extremely rare illness. He knows God, but I’m not sure he’s walking with Him anymore. His illness is progressing. I see him without peace. He’s scared. I at one point also became angry and left God off to the side. I have so much regret. I needed to be an example so my son could see my faith. I feel like I’m begging God to help my son. I need peace to accept His will.

    1. Kyah Collins says:

      Praying for you right now, Traci!

  27. Linda says:

    Kelsey what is a prayer board? Would you elaborate please? I’m grateful for being a part of this community. I’m grateful for the encouragement and realness of those who post here.

  28. Erricka Hager says:

    Do not imitate Diotrephes, who had an insatiable appetite for authority and power, always elevating his needs over others. Rather, imitate Gaius, who served at all times with a heart of humility, putting other’s needs before his own.

    1. Kate Minich says:


  29. Lizzie says:

    This was just what I needed to hear, imitate what is good, walk in the truth, in the light, draw near to God and He will draw near to you, know that He welcomes you as a Father and paid your ransom. He will never leave you or forsake you, boldly proclaim the Lord is my helper! I am not afraid! Praise the Lord! Hebrews 13, Matthew 20, 3 John 1.

  30. Kelsi Boone says:

    Lord, thank you for your gospel. Thank you for your truth that sets a so free. God I wrestle with thought in my head. Sometimes I can be my own bully. Sometimes I let satan and his lies ring truer than your word. Remind me that you are all I need. That your love is an unstoppable force driving out the demons. Remind me that I’m never alone in the battle. That you are ever so present in the midst of the war. Thank you for being a humble servant. Help me to imitate you ferocious love that casts out all fear and yet serves the blind so that they might see your lovely truth. I love you. Amen.

  31. Churchmouse says:

    3 John 4 brings me to my knees this morning. “I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in truth.” Yes, to my knees in gratitude for our daughters and sons in law who are strong believers. Yes, to my knees for those moms and dads who do not yet see the reality of that verse. We parents are called to be faithful and to endure and to be brave and to speak the truth in love. Even when, and especially when, all our efforts seem for naught. We are not in this alone. God Himself is pursuing our children. There is an army of prayer warriors – those who have been there and those who are still in the battle-who stay the course and who refuse to yield any ground to the enemy. This army does not back down because the Commander in Chief never has and never will. He goes after the one. The order is always to press on.

    Dear friends, today let us pray for our sons and daughters,our grandchildren, and all the others, who do not yet know Jesus. Yes, the battle is wearying, disheartening and discouraging at times but it is never hopeless. Let us pray without ceasing.

    1. Tricia Cavanaugh says:

      Yes, thank you Churchmouse. I continually pray for the salvation of my children. All three of them. I am trusting that I will see te reality of them coming to know our Savior as Lord. ❤️

    2. Dana Clements says:

      Amen!! ❤️

  32. Laura Gelinas says:

    Love this verse today. ❤️

  33. Tina says:

    I meant to put, Amanda Bible, Reachel, Kaitlin, Sharon, Rebecca.. et all, in my first paragraph..
    Oops, I love you guys..❤

  34. Tina says:

    I would like to echo Paul’s words in 3 John 1,5

    My dear dear friends, whom I truly love, (no matter the miles or distance between us), you are so faithful in the work you do for your fellow-Christians..
    Thank you, thank you wrapped in love, hugs and prayers that all is well with you and yours and that you are in good health..❤

    Receiving these words today, with my heart open and my mind set on Jesus..

    “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good” (3John 11). WALK IN TRUTH. WALK IN LIGHT, IMITATING what is good as displayed by our Savior, JESUS CHRIST. Don’t mind the bullies. Whether they come dressed as self-appointed gatekeepers or as lies from inside your own head, they do not speak for God.

    Keep going. Keep close to Jesus.


    Sending BIG love, hugs and prayers across the pond, for a God blessed weekend..❤

  35. Angie says:

    Thank you for the prayers for teachers, students, and families ladies.

    These lines spoke to me from He Reads Truth today. Andrew Stoddard wrote:
    The grace and love of God are abundant, lavish, and overflowing, but sometimes we need a little nudge to remember that the rubber’s gotta meet the road at some point. Our lives need to align with what our mouths profess. We’ve all heard the challenge, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Well, this is John’s imperative: “Put your life where your mouth is.”

    It’s fitting that one of our other readings today comes from the book of Hebrews, whose author warns his readers more than a few times to be vigilant that they not fall away from their faith. You see, the writers of Hebrews and John both knew something that we need to remember: There is no “neutral” in the life of faith. You are either moving closer to the center of God’s design for your life, or you are drifting aimlessly toward the powers and ways of this world.

    Powerful words. We serve in Love, the Love that is God, and in so doing, draw closer to Him.

  36. Blessed Beth says:

    Good morning Ladies, I love the words of Hebrews 13:6 I am going to put them on my board as a reminder that the LORD IS MY HELPER and I need His help 24/7 and that I need not be afraid, words that bring such comfort especially right now. And I love the comfort of knowing that with His help man can do nothing to me I am His and love being the person I am in Him. As a child I was so shy I was afraid of the telephone, I don’t know what I thought it would do to me. I wished I was just like all the other popular children. I felt this way for many years later I realized I am His child and loved by Him just the way He made me. Hallelujah

    1. Kelsi Boone says:

      Good idea Beth! I’m going to do that too! Maybe make a prayer board or something like that. Love it!! Love you sister. Keep finding hope in his redeeming words.