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. Liz A says:

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

  2. Jessica Nicolas says:

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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…

  6. 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

  7. DOROTHY says:

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

  8. 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. ❤️