that Contrast Light and Darkness
Benefits of Walking in Truth
There is an important contrast between
individuals who walk in the light and a person who walk in darkness. John
mentions three specific individuals in 3 John: Gaius, Diotrophes and Demetrius.
There is a sharp contrast seen as you compare the lives of Gaius and Demetrius
with the life of Diotrophes.
There is much that we do not know about these
individuals. However, there is enough said about them for us to learn some
things to practice and some things to avoid. Let us study these three men.
There is a dire need for Christians
to exemplify the life of Christ. John describes how we should live
as he addresses three individuals in this letter. Let us examine what is
said about Gaius and Demetrius first and then we will contrast them with
Diotrophes. Hopefully from this study, we will be able to understand when
we possess the spirit of light and the darkness. We should also be able
to understand which of these three we should emulate and follow.
Gaius Served Others
3 John 1:1-8
The elder, To my dear friend
Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy
good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting
along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about
your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the
truth. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers,
even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about
your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy
of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no
help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men
so that we may work together for the truth. (NIV)
Gaius is well spoken of by others because
he walks in truth. His soul was well as a result of living faithful
to the truth. Gaius is reaping the fruits of a faithful life.
Gaius’ spiritual health is evident to
all. He has a great reputation because he was recognized as a man
who obeyed the Word of God and walked in the truth. John writes, "It
gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness
to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth."
His entire life was wrapped around living the truth.
Gaius was causing others to rejoice
as he encourages them through exemplifying faithfulness. Gaius
encouraged John for John had "great joy" to hear he was walking
in truth. Nothing is as encouraging as fellow Christians striving to live
up to what they profess. John indicates that he has "no greater joy"
than when he hears that God's children are living in the truth.
The church needs individuals like Gaius
who meditate on God’s Word for the purpose of digesting so that it can
become a part of their lives. When it the Word becomes a part of
our lives we will be able to serve others with a spirit of devotion. Gaius
wasn’t a teacher or preacher, but he opened his home to those who were.
This was a great encouragement to those laboring as preachers and teachers.
Gaius demonstrates his faith through
extending hospitality to others who are in the ministry.
3 John 1:5-8
Dear friend, you are faithful
in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers
to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to
send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of
the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought
therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together
for the truth. (NIV)
Extending hospitality was an encouragement
to the lost. Many wandered about in those days sharing their ideas
and begging for money. When someone in the local community allowed ministers
of the Word to stay with them, it gave the ministers credibility. It prevented
them from needing money from those taught. Money hungry churches have left
the impression that is all they are interested in.
Gaius demonstrates his faith by the
way he lives. John writes, "Dear friend, you are faithful in
what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to
you. They have told the church about your love." It is one thing to
fight apostasy and refuse false teachers, but it is quite another to open
our homes and wallets to promote the truth.
Gaius demonstrates what is good by following
God in love. He demonstrates meekness as he is in submission to
others through the will of God. He never sought to exalt himself, but rather
sought the good of others.
Diotrephes Sought to Exalt Self
(The following on Diotrephes came
from: Franklin Camp, Old Truths In New Robes, Vol.
3 John 9-10
2. Roberts & Sons, Birmingham, AL, Pg.
I wrote to the church, but
Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So
if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously
about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers.
He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
This problem is not unique in 3 John;
we find this same attitude among the disciples of Jesus.
At that time the disciples
came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I
tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles
himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "And
whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. (NIV)
Then the mother of Zebedee's
sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
"What is it you want?" he asked. She said, "Grant that one of these two
sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom."
"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink
the cup I am going to drink?" "We can," they answered. Jesus said to them,
"You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not
for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared
by my Father." (NIV)
Also a dispute arose among
them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them,
"The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority
over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that.
Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one
who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at
the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table?
But I am among you as one who serves. (NIV)
This same attitude runs rampant throughout
1 Corinthians. Paul addresses the issue in the following verses.
1 Corinthians 12:12-25
The body is a unit, though
it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form
one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit
into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free-- and we were all
given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part
but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not
belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the
body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong
to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If
the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact
God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted
them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is,
there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I
don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"
On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,
and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.
And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,
while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined
the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked
it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts
should have equal concern for each other. (NIV)
It is highly improbable that Diotrophes
was opposing and casting some out of the church claiming that they were
teaching error. He may have made himself believe that this was
true, but this evidently was not the case, as John would have joined with
him in opposing error.
There are certain attitudes that manifest
a desire to serve and exalt self.
Just what it was that Diotrophes was
offended about, we are not told, but it is not difficult to offend a man
who has an undue sense of his own importance. The person that is
in love with himself is always easily offended. The desire for recognition
that is not deserved is always a dangerous thing. This same spirit at one
time affected some of the apostles. They were wanting to be first, have
the preeminence, but Christ showed them that service when given wholeheartedly
and without desire for recognition, will bring exaltation.
The desire for preeminence creates competition
rather than cooperation. Members of the body of Christ are not
in competition with one another, but are to function together as the members
of the human body. The church does not grow and prosper by competition,
but by working together.
This principle is true not only of members
of the local church, but also of congregations. In all too many
instances where there are several congregations in a community, they act
as if they are in competition with one another. It is possible for a congregation
to have the spirit of Diotrophes. The church grows in the community where
congregations work together and not against one another.
The spirit of Diotrophes will cause
one to use some "trumped up" charge against another. It is evident
that Diotrophes was doing this, for how could he have succeeded in "casting
some out of the church" unless he was able to convince others to go along
with him. Too often personal differences—matters of opinion—are used as
a smoke screen to create factions. The spirit of Diotrophes makes a person
color-blind so he cannot distinguish between his opinion and matters of
faith. A person that is in love with himself thinks his word, his opinion
is law. This is the ultimate end to which one comes that seeks preeminence.
Christ is to have preeminence and His word is our law. But if some man
seeks preeminence, he usurps the authority that belongs to Christ and the
result is that he feels that his word is bound on everyone.
The motto of Diotrophes is "it is better to
reign in a small church than to serve in a large one." When matters of
faith are involved, it is better to reduce the size of the congregation
and have it scriptural than to have the "biggest church in town" that is
unscriptural. This was not the case with Diotrophes. It was the matter
of controlling the church that reduced its size as far as Diotrophes was
concerned. This is what always happens where a Diotrophes is found. The
church shrinks instead of growing.
The spirit of Diotrophes causes one
to seek power, not usefulness. The supreme desire of Diotrophes
was to stand first, not do the most. This is a false aim and can only lead
to ruin. The church at Corinth was cursed by this attitude and Paul said,
"Seek that you may EXCEL TO THE EDIFYING OF THE CHURCH." The spirit of
a Christian is to build up the church, not self. We need more of this seeking
rather than the seeking for preeminence.
The spirit of Diotrophes, with its lust
for power, is sure to abuse any power one may have. This very desire
for power is evidence of a lack of any power given to him. Diotrophes’
casting people out of the church was an abuse of power. The desire to serve
is the only safeguard against the abuse of power.
Diotrophes wanted his own way, not the
best way, not the way that would be beneficial to others. If he
could not have his way by fair means, he would attempt to get his way by
foul means. The most prevalent way of "foul means" is "prating against
us with malicious words."
Let us follow Demetrius and Gaius rather than
Demetrius Receives Praises
3 John 1:11-14
Dear friend, do not imitate
what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God.
Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. Demetrius is well spoken
of by everyone-- and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him,
and you know that our testimony is true. I have much to write you, but
I do not want to do so with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we
will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings.
Greet the friends there by name. (NIV)
John praised Demetrius, because others
praised Demetrius. With the authority of an apostle, John underlined
what others said about Demetrius. Here is a man you can trust. He is a
man of truth. He has born testimony from all that he is to be trusted.
Evidently Demetrius was a missionary supported
by other churches. When he went to make the gospel known, he did not seek
money from those he was teaching. He had given up his income and his work
as he went out to a higher calling.
It you seek the good of others you will be
praised by them. That is the only kind of praise a Christians deserves.
But he that is greatest among
you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased;
and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. KJV)
Be devoted to one another in
brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. (NIV)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition
or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.