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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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. ❤️

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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: