The Right Role Models
3John 9 I have written something to the church; but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing in spreading false charges against us. And not content with those charges, he refuses to welcome the friends, and even prevents those who want to do so and expels them from the church.
3John 11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. 12 Everyone has testified favorably about Demetrius, and so has the truth itself. We also testify for him, and you know that our testimony is true.
Diotrephes and Demetrius — both men who were serving in the church and yet, one was a living example of what it meant to follow Christ and the other was not. We don’t know the exact circumstances or the basis of Diotrephes’ actions but he was holding fast to the power which he had somehow assumed. He took authority to judge people and even expel visitors. More than likely Diotrephes refused to preach what he had been taught by the Apostles and chose to preach his own teachings. Often this becomes the birthplace of heresy and the Apostles refused to be silent for this abuse of preaching, if not corrected, would corrupt the understanding of many others.
It’s common for people to look to others as their role models and imitate them in life. We are to be discerning about what is good and what is not. A good role model is one who reflects Christ. If their behaviors are not consistent with that of Jesus Christ then they should not be imitated. Demetrius was a faithful follower, just like the elder Gaius and worthy of imitation. His life reflected Christ and those around him testified to this truth. He was the right role model.
How discerning are we about those whom we allow to influence our lives? If Diotrephes had been alive today I imagine he would have had an incredible following on social media. I’m guessing he would have been blogging and posting almost all day long, sharing with others from his “great pool of wisdom,” whether it was consistent with traditional theological truths or not. Innocent and uneducated people would be star-struck by his uncanny ability to communicate and make them feel good and they would begin to imitate his behaviors, even if they weren’t consistent with the life of Christ.
People are hungry for good role models in life and it’s easy to become attracted to the most charismatic person around. This Scripture is a gentle reminder for cautious consideration when it comes to following others. Demetrius was known for the way in which he lived his life, not for the way in which he wielded power and influence. His life was seen as good and reflecting of the truth. He may not have had much time for social media because he was simply too busy serving the Lord.
The best role model for life may be someone you’ve never noticed because they’ve been quietly going about the business of serving God. Look for the person who can walk the walk, not just talk the talk! This is the kind of role model we all need in our lives.
Lord, thank you for the faithful servants whom I’ve been blessed to encounter. Please use them to influence my life. Amen.
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