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How Do We Solve a Problem Like Diotrephes? Blog and Podcast

August 24, 2018

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Last week we looked at the first half of 3 John and specifically the story of Gaius, who was a wonderful example of a disciple of Christ. As we continue through the rest of 3 John we see, at the end of the chapter, the mention of another man who seems to be on the same path as Gaius in regard to being a disciple, a man named Demetrius.

Sandwiched between those is the story of a man who is not exactly a shining light of Christ, yet he seems to have prominence in the church. His name is Diotrephes. Already, with a name like Diotrephes, you know this is a man who is going to stand out. Unfortunately, Diotrephes stands out for the wrong reasons.

 3 John 9-11, I wrote something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have first place among them, does not receive our authority. 10 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.

Diotrephes was a man in the church who was about his own agenda, would not receive the ministry of the apostle John, or anyone outside the fellowship, for that matter. He did not receive guests into the body, and, in fact, would throw people out of the church for bringing new folks in. When people would speak of the Apostle John, Diotrephes would slander his name and talk badly of him. Diotrephes did not want anything to disrupt his agenda.

How did this church get to this point? How was Diotrephes allowed to have this much influence? The truth is, the church failed. They let their guard down and, slowly but surely, an evil influence was able to take root and potentially destroy the church. Let’s take a look at the areas where the church failed.

First of all, the church lost its identity

This was established as the church of Jesus Christ. Christ died for the church. The identity of the church is Christ. Our personal identity is to be Christ in us. Letting the light of Christ shine through us.

This church in our text had lost at least part of its identity, and had allowed someone to rise up to leadership that was not in tune with the Spirit of God.

Secondly, the church compromised the Truth

When Diotrephes refused to receive the letter that John wrote as one of the apostles of Jesus Christ, he was, in a manner of practice, refusing the Word of God. When Diotrephes was throwing people out of the church who were trying to share the Gospel and welcome people in, he was going against the Great Commission

Thirdly, the church denied its mission

By refusing to hear the counsel of the apostle John, by refusing to welcome new people into the fellowship, and by stifling the evangelistic efforts by the church, Diotrephes was denying the mission, and the commission, of the church. The Great Commission is pretty clear. Matthew 28:19, 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

The question of the day is…How Do We Solve a Problem Like Diotrephes?

Make no mistake about it, Diotrephes is a problem for the church, and it is the church’s problem. The church is a relationship, a body of believers, and when a member of the body is pulling against the rest, the entire body has a problem. If you don’t think so, remember the last time you stubbed your toe. Was that a problem for just your toe, or a problem for your entire body? For a few moments, it’s a problem for your entire body. The solution is not to cut your toe off and separate it from the rest of the body.

As the body is hurt, the body is built to heal itself. In doing so, the body must build itself up. I need to make sure that I don’t have some Diotrephes slipping into my life.

To combat that, I ask myself three questions. First of all, I ask myself, “Have I found my identity in something other than Christ?” Is my life defined by something besides Christ in me? The Word says “Seek ye first” and He will take care of everything else. God has the small stuff well under His control. He has the big stuff well under His control.

The second question I ask myself is “am I compromising the Truth in my life?” Diotrephes compromised the truth by refusing to obey the Word of God, by refusing people to have access to the Gospel, and by denying the voice of the apostles to speak the Word into the church. The Lord simply asks us to obey and He will take care of the rest.

The third question I ask myself is “is my life denying its mission?”

When we come to Christ, our agendas go by the wayside in light of Christ’s agenda for our lives. His calling on our lives is a calling through our lives. Go…ye…therefore…we can’t deny it and remain obedient to Christ.

So, how do we solve a problem like Diotrephes? By pursuing Christ every day, by keeping our eyes on the prize, by loving others as Christ loved us, not looking at difficult people in your life as problems but opportunities.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

From → Blog Posts, Podcasts

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