Loving First Place (3 John 1:9-10)
WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – Troublemakers are nothing new in the church. Unfortunately, the one described in Third John was one of the leaders. His name was Diotrephes, and he polluted the church in several ways:
- He refused to submit to John’s apostolic authority.
- As if that weren’t enough, He did all he could to defame John and undermine his influence with others.
- He refused to show hospitality to visiting believers (probably those passing through town on mission work discussed in verses 3-8).
- Not satisfied with that, he condemned those who were supporting these visitors, and he had enough political authority in the church to block their efforts and expel them from the fellowship.
Diotrephes had a number of things wrong with him, but John listed first the one that came first: He loved first place:
“I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have first place among them, does not receive our authority. This is why, if I come, I will remind him of the works he is doing, slandering us with malicious words. And he is not satisfied with that! He not only refuses to welcome fellow believers, but he even stops those who want to do so and expels them from the church” (3 John 1:9-10).
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – Dear ones, how important is it for you to be first? To be prominent, to be recognized, to be listened to, to be admired, to be the one in charge? If you’re like me, it’s more important than it should be; it’s more important than our Master wants it to be.
The world urges such self-elevating desires upon us: It’s the only way to get ahead. Jesus turns those values on their heads and declares, “It must not be like that among you!”
When his disciples competed for positions of prominence, “Jesus called them over and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Matt 20:25-28).
The church has seldom seen what could be accomplished for the Lord if no one cared who got the credit and everyone desired only that God get the glory. But we‘ve seen that heart in Jesus over and over, and he recommends it to us: “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15).
Lord, flush away our love of self that we may gladly kneel to serve you and your people with a diminishing need to be exalted for it.