Are You A Diotrephes?

  • Tuesday, May 3, 2011

  • No doubt there’s a character in the Bible whom you admire, maybe even one with whom you can identify. Perhaps it’s Nehemiah who saw the need to rebuild Jerusalem and acted. Maybe you’ve thought a lot about Lydia of Thyatira, the seller of purple who was an early European convert to Christianity. It could be Joshua who took over from Moses as leader of Israel, the one who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. What about Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. There’s no shortage of admirable examples for living a life that is pleasing to God. A few minutes re-reading Hebrews 11 for a full list of people to be admired will give other examples.

    But, it’s in 3 John 9 where we find someone who’s an example of one who causes problems in the church. Diotrephes appeared to be an active member and leader in the early church. But, examine what John says about him, then lay that along side Paul’s letter to Titus.

    “I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, neither does he himself receive the brethren and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”   3 John 9

    Diotrephes used two methods to cause strife. First, he sought to discredit the message of the apostles by attacking their character. He chose this method because he couldn’t mount a solid theological debate. Second, his strategy to weaken the church was to interrupt the connection between those who were qualified and good teachers and those whom they sought to teach. Personal attacks and divisiveness, two successful ways to cause harm among God’s people.

    On Sunday, pastor Tom challenged us to administer a self test to see if we’re of the nature of Diotrephes. The test questions include:

    1.  Do I talk much but listen little?
    2.  Am I always convinced I am right therefore all others are wrong?
    3.  Do I willingly give other ideas a fair hearing?
    4.  Can I identify any longtime relationships with people who disagree with me?
    5.  Do I maintain emotional control when discussing differing views?
    6.  Is every issue a to-die-for issue?
    7.  Is my fellowship circle increasing or decreasing?
    8.  Am I grieved by having to disagree?
    9.  Do you have to express your opinion no matter what the issue of discussion?

    So, how did you do on this exam? In his letter to Titus, Paul warns, “For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”  Titus 1:10,11

    As we conclude our study of Titus, it’s a good opportunity for each of us to consider the role we play within God’s family. If Paul or John were watching today and writing others about your actions, what would they say? 


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