3Jn 1:8-11 “We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth. I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 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.”
Beloved, we are under an obligation to God to receive those that go forth for His name’s sake (see 3Jn 1:7). Sometimes we treat the word “ought” as though it were a take it or leave it instruction; “it says I ought to do it, not that I have to do it.” The Greek word carries translated as ought means “to owe or be under obligation.” That does not sound like something I should take a nonchalant attitude towards. In receiving them, both they and we are blessed; we become laborers together in the truth of God!
Not everyone is going to be happy about you being a laborer in the truth. As you read this statement maybe your mind turns to “the world” or “the devil” as an entity that would not be happy about it. While both those conclusions are true, we need to be aware that perhaps not everyone in the church is going to be happy about it. Sometimes we may encounter those who think their opinion should count for more than the truth. They may resist you and those received by you simply because you did not come to them first for permission.
Let me encourage you that when you are being led by the Spirit you do not need to ask any man’s permission. I am not saying that you should be haughty about it; then you become the thing you are seeking to resist. When you are sure, by the leadership of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of God’s word, that you are doing what He would have you do, then do it with all humility. Do not be afraid to resist those that seek the preeminence; preeminence belongs only to Jesus.
John assures us this type of attitude will not go unnoticed, and it will not be swept under the rug. It is to be addressed boldly, in love, and the evil fruit thereof pointed out. Those that seek preeminence are not content to just talk. They refuse to receive their brethren in Christ and forbid others to do so. They will go so far as to cast them out of the church. This spirit of “me first” is the evil that John is telling us to not follow. Don’t follow that which is evil, but rather receive all that God sends, for this is good.
Just as “me first” produces evil fruit, a God-centered walk produces good fruit. The testimony is that doing good is evidence that we are of God. Pay close attention to the language. We are not doing good in order to be of God; we do good because we are of God! Being of God, we see Him by faith and walk in that faith to His glory and the help of our brethren. If we refuse the brethren that God has sent, then we have not seen God. Our faith is not in Him first. We are still seeking for preeminence.
May the Holy Spirit teach us to know that preeminence belongs only to Jesus Christ trough the power of God (Col 1:16-18).