In the book of 3rd John, we see a church in turmoil. Paul is writing to Gaius, a church elder, about a continual problem in the church that seems to surround one man Diotrephes.
Two Views of One Man
We don't know the role Diotrephes played in the church. He could have been a minister, elder, deacon or just a member. We do however see he has enough influence that he is attempting to run the show. If you talked to him, he is the one that is keeping the church straight. He’s the leader they need. He can tell you all about the negative influences, who you shouldn't be listening to and what you should be doing. He has the answers and there is no need to consider anyone else’s point of view.
John however sees something very different. He sees a man full of arrogance and ambition. One who is doing harm to the church there and the work of spreading the Gospel elsewhere. John sees a man that need to be called to task.
So why the different views? Well I don’t this Diotrephes (or any Diotrephes like person in the church today) really took a clear look at himself. He too busy solving everyone else’s problems to see his own. And if we are not careful we can find ourselves just like him…
How Do I Know If I am Diotrephes?
1. When You Have To Be In Charge
Diotrephes has to lead the meeting. He has to be the spokesman. He has to have the final say. His ideas are always the best. If we have to be “the guy”, then we might be Diotrephes. We may think it is our talents that make us need to be on top, but it is not our skill, it is our arrogance.
2. When You Don’t Listen To Anyone
Talking to Diotrephes is like talking to a brick wall. Others words just don't penetrate. You can tell them something over and over and it never sticks, because they don’t listen. They are too sure of their ways to even consider what others may be saying. When you feels like no one is talking to you, it might be because you are Diotrephes. They have given up because you never listen.
3. When You Talk Bad About Others
It isn’t enough for Diotrephes to be right, others must be wrong. If someone has the gall to not agree with him, they must be condemned. Diotrephes will always begin and end every conversation letting you know how wrong his “enemies” are. When your way is not only the best way but the only way and anyone that isn't on board is evil, chances are you have become Diotrephes. When others success is an attack on you, you know something is wrong.
4. When You Run Off Good People
Diotrephes’ love of being first mean he has to eliminate any competition. Good people are not any good to him. He only sees two kinds of people those that are with him and those that are against him. Others are only useful to him to help him maintain his goals. If you look around and have more people that won't or can't work with you than will, you are a Diotrephes. Churches that have a Diotrephes problem also have a worker shortage.
Why We All Need To Look In The Mirror?
In 2nd Corinthians 13:5 we are told, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?” I may not think I am a Diotrephes, but then again no Diotrephes thinks he is either. In might be hard for us to realize the problems the church is struggling with can fall at our feet, but it will be a lot harder if we get to the judgment not realizing it!