Day 12

Imitating What Is Good

from the 1, 2 & 3 John reading plan

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

BY Amanda Bible Williams

“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.

Post Comments (45)

45 thoughts on "Imitating What Is Good"

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. DOROTHY says:

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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!! 

  6. Kathleen says:

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

  7. Diana Fleenor says:

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

  8. 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.

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