If someone was going to write about you in a book and describe the life you are currently living, how would you like to be described? As a faithful friend? A loving parent? A hard worker? A super servant?
To be sure, none of us would want to be described in someone’s book the way John, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, described Diotrephes in sacred Scripture.
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. (3 John 9-10)
So Diotrephes . . .
- Loves to be first
- Will have nothing to do with church authority
- Gossips maliciously
- Refuses to welcome the brothers
- Hinders others from welcoming the brothers
- Puts them out of the church
WOW! Being chronicled by name in sacred Scripture with this kind of life confession leaves a lot to be desired. A whole lot! Now, you and I don’t know what was going on in the heart of Diotrephes that made him dislike, distrust, and disrupt the apostle’s ministry. But it would serve us well to pause and see where our story intersects with his story. Why? Because, like Diotrephes, we are all sinners—both by nature and habit. Given the right (or wrong) environment and circumstances, we all might do some of the very same things. After all, which one of us does not love to be first?
The only cure for such a carnal chronicle is the Gospel. The Gospel truths enlarge our view of Jesus. As He increases in our lives, we begin to decrease. We no longer are driven by our need of being first. We rest in the Gospel truth that many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first (Matthew 19:30). We no longer feel the need of wagging our gossiping tongues in the direction of others, putting others down to lift ourselves up. We learn what Paul learned about being content because he knew he had everything he needed because he had Jesus (Philippians 4:11-13).
So . . . if someone were chronicling your life, what would you hope would be said about you? What if a researcher interviewed those closest to you . . . what do you think they might say about you? Well, if there is a difference between your answer to the first question and your answer to the second, you still have time to do something about it!
Check out the chronicle of a woman who is identified only as “Peter’s mother-in-law.”
When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. (Matthew 8:14-15)
What a wonderful thing to have written about Peter’s mother-in-law, especially in light of the plethora of mother-in-law jokes circulating today! Peter’s mother-in-law moved from sickness to service—from fever to faithfulness. Clearly, Jesus was on the throne of her life and her heart beat to bless Him. May this be the confession of our lives . . . and the chronicle that appears if our name is ever recorded in someone’s book.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!