What Kind Of Christian Are You? No. 4.
For Dictatorial Christians! Part C.
Reading 3 John v 1-14.
3. Diotrephes The Dictator!
C. The Deliverance! v 11.
"Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good: he that doeth good is of God; but he that doeth evil hath not seen God."
This is solemn advice indeed. Such a person is not to be followed, he is not to be imitated or mimicked. Too often the Diotrephes of this world become heroes in the minds of some because he is championing his own selfish cause.
So John is deeply concerned that Gaius and others not be influenced by Diotrephes, so he writes, "Don't follow that which is evil" v 11.
Rather, "follow that which is good"
(i) We are to follow after Love: 1 Cor. 14 v 1.
This is the way to a godly life for Gaius, Diotrephes and all others who will take instruction.
Paul says, we are to follow after love, or "pursue Love." Pursue means to follow, hunt, or chase after with intensity. Lovelessness was a very real problem among the Corinthian Church to which all of their other problems were related in one way or another. The only strong affection many of them displayed was for themselves, so Paul introduces a command to them, "pursue love!" the Apostle had taken the whole of the previous chapter to highlight the necessity of displaying true love, because true love displays the reality of our Christianity!
The Bible's clearest and yet simplest description of God, and therefore God's own description of Himself is, "God is love" 1 John 4v16. Love is the most precious manifestation of the character of God. John continues, "and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him" v 16b. Therefore the simplest and most profound description of Christian character also is love.
Sadly, in many of our churches, as with the church at Corinth, the love that is absolutely fundamental to Christian character is absent from amongst us. We may have many of the gifts, the right doctrine, a good crowd, an excellent programme, and an interest in people, but if love is missing the Apostle says, "we are as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal." 1 Cor. 13 v 1.
History records for us, it seems much easier to be strongly orthodox than to be loving toward each other.
(ii) We are to follow after Good: 1 Thess. 5 v 15.
"See that none render evil for evil unto any man, but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men."
We seem to have lost within the context of the church these days the Scriptural principle of what we once called body-life. That is a family member learning to care for and ministering to each other. According to Ephesians 4v12, the spiritual leaders are to be continually equipping the members to do the work of their ministry, yet in most churches, the members pay the leader or leaders to do the work of the ministry. Now, as the leaders cannot do everything, consequently the work begins to weaken and die, and everybody blames the preacher. That's what is meant by following after good, each one of us doing the good we should be doing in carrying out our own ministry.
There are many dear people in our Churches that need good doing toward them, which should in turn cause them to want to do good towards others. Can you imagine a church like that? A church, in which I have more care and thought for you than I have for myself. The cross is a tree set fire on with invisible flame, that illumines the entire world. That flame is love!
In verse 14 of 1 Thessalonians Paul reminds us of the kind of people that need that kind of care and love, the unruly, the feebleminded, and the weak. We may well add to that list many others that we know are not the easiest to get along with, no it’s not going to be easy, he never said it would, but it will be worth it because it will bring glory to God in His Church. So for that reason in verse 15 of 1 Thessalonians he reminds us to watch our motives.
Often as we minister to others, come alongside to help, they totally reject us and rebel against us. They may even show no signs of appreciation of any kind. So we must be careful to serve in love with a forgiving heart or we will be torn apart within. Never pay back evil with evil to anyone. Never try to take revenge, that's God's department. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty give him to drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12 v 17-21. NASB.
You see, if our motive is wrong then we are going to be wrung out like a wet cloth. If we are looking for appreciation and praise for what we do unto others, we may be very disappointed. On the other hand, if our motive is "ourselves your servants for Jesus sake" 2 Cor. 4 v 5 you never will be disappointed, because what you are doing you do for the good of others and the glory of God!
(iii) We are to follow after Righteousness: 1 Tim. 6 v 11 + 2 Tim. 2 v 22.
"But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
"Flee also youthful lusts, but follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart."
The title Paul uses in this first text from Timothy is deeply interesting to say the least. The title "Man of God" although used often in the Old Testament is used only on one occasion in the New Testament and it’s here in this text. This is an amazingly personal and privileged title not simply lavished on just anyone. Why? Because without any doubt at all it describes the very powerful responsibility that rests on the shoulders of the man so designated. And I believe Paul used the title under the leading of the Spirit to increase Timothy's sense of responsibility so that he would discharge his ministry with the deepest integrity. How is such a man to carry on his ministry in a difficult day amongst indifferent people for God? This from Dr. John MacArthur.
"The man of God is known by what he Flees from, Follows after, Fights for, and is Faithful to!" End quote!
That's the deliverance for Diotrephes and the determination for Gaius and the delight for us if we follow instruction.
We are designated men and women of God; we have a powerful responsibility and an amazing privilege to glorify the name of our God.
The second text quoted from Timothy is a vivid reminder, if he is to continue as he began, 'a man of God', he must be a man of a pure heart! Paul sets out for him five characteristics of a pure heart, which are very similar to his admonition in the first text quoted. The first characteristic of a pure heart is negative, set out for us in the command to "flee youthful lusts" the next four characteristics are positive and comprehensive, righteousness, faith, love and peace. To pursue those virtues is the other side of fleeing youthful lusts.
And by the way, this is not simply a suggestion from Paul it is much stronger. The Christian who will not "flee" from sin and pursue righteousness will be completely overcome by sin. The whole purpose of a true believer with a pure heart is to please God and bring glory to His name, thus he/she will continually pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, it becomes as natural as breathing. Just as we cannot know life without breath so we cannot know abundant life without following after these things, they are the very breath of life to us. That's why Diotrephes became a vocal point for John to hone in on, he is acting absolutely from a sinful heart and it's tearing the church apart.
"Max Jukes lived in New York. He did not believe in Christ or in Christian training. He refused to take his children to church, even when they asked to go. He has had 1,026 descendants; 300 were sent to prison for an average term of thirteen years; 190 were public prostitutes; 680 were admitted alcoholics. His family, thus far, has cost the state in excess of $420,000. They made no contribution to society.
Jonathan Edwards lived in the same state, at the same time as Jukes. He loved the Lord and saw that his children were in church every Sunday, as he served the Lord to the best of his ability. He has had 929 descendants, and of these 430 were ministers; 86 became university professors; 13 became university presidents; 75 authored good books; 7 were elected to the United States Congress. One was vice president of his nation. His family never cost the state one cent but has contributed immeasurably to the life of plenty in this land today." James S. Hewett.
We are to follow after righteousness and the results will speak for themselves.
(iv) We are to follow after Peace: Heb. 12 v 14.
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."
Another translation puts it like this:
"Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord."
Dr. John MacArthur says, "Pursuing peace primarily relates to loving men, and pursuing righteousness primarily to loving God. If we love men, we will be at peace with them, and if we love God we will live righteously." End quote!
That folks is a very telling statement indeed and very clearly, in a nut shell, is the meaning of this text and every Christian with dictatorial tendencies should take serious note of it. Why? Because Christlikeness, is our greatest possible testimony to a sinful and lost world. The unbelievers of this world may well be asking of such a person, why don't you practice what you preach?
(v) We are to follow after the Lord! 1 Peter 2 v 21.
"For even hereunto were you called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps."
Hosea in chapter 6 v 3 reminds us "we are to follow on to know the Lord"
"Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come forth unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."
We are not saved by following Christ's example, because each of us would trip over verse 22: "who did no sin." Sinners need a Saviour not an example. But after a person is saved there should be a desire born within to follow closely upon the steps and example of Jesus.
Jesus is our example by His life. All He did of which we read in the Gospels is a wonderful example for us to follow. Our Lord's example of humility and submission were not, remember, evidence of weakness but of power and authority. Just before the Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross He gathered His disciples around Him. Do you remember they were debating who was the greatest in the kingdom? Jesus brought a little child to the front and Matthew 18 v 3-4 says, "Verily I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever, therefore, shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."
The one who will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven is the one who displays a humble childlikeness not childishness; there is a major difference!
So I believe beloved the major purpose of John highlighting this problem with Diotrephes is to keep before us, that that kind of behaviour is not acceptable with the Lord in the midst of His church. It is at best the behaviour of a Christian out of touch with his living Lord or at worst it’s the action of an unsaved man who is living as a tare amongst the wheat.
"A holy life is a voice; it speaks when the tongue is silent and is either a constant attraction or a perpetual reproof."
Archbishop Robert Leighton (1611-1684).