By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: 3 John
Key Scripture Verses: 3 John 1:11 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“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.”
This book is a very short book of the Bible. In fact, 3 John is only comprised of one chapter and 14 verses. It is a short letter by the Apostle John to his friend Gaius to praise him for taking care of traveling missionaries and furthering the spread of the gospel by doing so. Gaius was sharing his home and providing hospitality, facilitating their efforts.
In the letter, John contrasted what Gaius was doing with that of another individual, Diotrephes, who was someone who wanted to take control in the church and who did not welcome the travelers, but caused strife by keeping others out of his individual church. John wrote of Diotrephes as someone “who loves to be first” and who “will not welcome us,” and that “he even refuses to welcome other believers.”
Diotrephes was apparently a person who wanted leadership for the wrong reasons. He wanted to elevate his own position and wanted to control what happened in the church, wanted to remove others from the church who opposed his leadership.
Unfortunately, the problems that occur outside of the church can also sometimes be found in the church. When those in administration of church activities are acting out of their own pride and their own ideas instead of prayerfully considering their duties based on principles of Christian love and discipleship, they are not doing God’s will, but their own. Because we are all sinners, we need to be mindful of whether our decisions are made out of faith or out of our own desires and pride.
Churches can become like cliques. Because we love our own fellowship, we may not be welcoming to others who visit, caring for our own desires to be with our friends and forgetting that the church is meant to be open to all believers and to unbelievers who may be exploring what our faith is about.
We are called to be Christ-like, to strive in all things to love one another and to emulate Jesus. He is our only example of pure love. We need to be in continual prayer for our church and our church leaders that we are following God’s will and sharing his love with others.
May we always be mindful of why we do what we do within the church. May we pray for our church and the decisions we are involved in, so that our decisions are shaped by God’s will and not our own. We need to be a help–not a hindrance– in spreading the gospel. May all that we do be done in love.