My grandfather was a man of great integrity. He was the type who could seal deals with a handshake and no one would question his sincerity. He was also a man who had very little good to say about the church. He refused to associate with "those hypocrites" or anything they believed. Even from a young age I would argue that "they" would have to answer for themselves, but that was no reason to abandon the church. There is truth in that. But I've also grown to understand that there is also truth in being careful of whom we associate. Recently I heard a sermon on the letter of 3 John. I am not sure I have ever heard a sermon on this passage before. If I have, I must have only half-paid attention. But on that Sunday, it struck chords deep in my soul. Don't imitate the evil of Diotrephes, but be like Demetrius. We must be careful of our associations.
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.There is a person on the outskirts of my life who I have greatly admired for the Biblical knowledge that she has. At times, I have even been a little intimidated by that knowledge. But alongside that admiration and intimidation, I have also felt that inner warning that all is not right. I even know what is not right. There is one (at least one) area of belief that this person holds that is totally outside my understanding and conviction of the Bible's teaching on the church. And, honestly, it is a pretty foundational piece of doctrinal difference. I have tried to overlook that difference, because there is so much that is good in this person's belief and life. Don't hear me wrong, she is not a Diotrephes. She is not malicious in her beliefs and she does not overtly try to exclude others. But she is vocal and it can be divisive. I have tried to justify that "this is just an area to disagree and that we will both be held accountable for our beliefs" whilst at the same time attempting to emulate other parts of her life. But this passage has challenged me. I must be careful about who I copy. And if there is something that I am so glaringly convicted within the actions of a 'heroine' maybe I shouldn't be holding that person up to imitation.
Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true. 3 John 9-12
Character and doctrine matter. I often tell the girls to be careful who they choose as friends and role models. Who they are associating with will, in large part, determine choices they make in the future. If it is a good teaching for my girls, it is probably also a good teaching for me. Who am I emulating? Do they lead me to be more like Jesus? Or are they causing a division in my spirit? I need to choose to emulate the Demetriuses of this world and not the Diotrephes.
Dear Father, thank you for the wonderful friends and role models that you have given me to help me along this path of discipleship. Help me to make wise choices in who I copy. Help me to have wise discernment when something in someone's life doesn't feel right for me. And Lord, help me to be a Demetrius for those around me. Convict me if there are things in my life that could lead people away from you. For your glory........Amen