The Apostle John wrote a very personal letter to Christian Gaius. What you are about to read could hardly be considered a paraphrase of that letter, but the narrative may amplify the situation for you.

“Gaius, I’m impressed that you are going on for the Lord and thriving spiritually. I am praying that everything else in your life will prosper to the same extent. There is nothing that makes me happier than to see Christians continuing on for the Lord and walking daily in the truth.

I am hearing really good reports about you, despite the horrible things that are going on within the local church there. That Diotrephes loves to rule the roost! He grabs the spotlight whenever he can.  His unfair and malicious actions and wicked words are appalling. If I drop by for a visit, I will deal with him.

In the meantime, Gaius, keep your own soul sweet before the Lord. Don’t let people like Diotrephes kill your joy or turn your sweetness into bitterness. At any cost, keep yourself happy in the Lord. Don’t stoop to Diotrephes’ level of behaviour. Don’t mimic or imitate his evil ways. Don’t retaliate or get all bent out of shape over a man in the local church who is ruling like a wicked despot.

Follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.

Yes, Diotrephes is in the wrong. Yes, his actions are definitely evil. Yes, he is ruling with an iron fist. Yes, he is doing a lot of damage – but Gaius, don’t let a man like that do you in. Look after your own heart – keep it sweet. Diotrephes can only wreck and ruin your joy if you let him – if you give him permission. Never give him or even loan him the keys to your heart. Guard your heart like a fortress.

The other brother there, Demetrius – now, there’s a dear brother who has an excellent report despite the chaos Diotrephes is causing. If you want to mimic or imitate someone’s behaviour – pick as a model someone like him who has such a good report. ‘He who does good is of God.'”

No – you couldn’t consider the above a paraphrasing of 3 John. But I think you could easily extract it from the short epistle.

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. 3John 1:11

Sometimes when we want to give in to the desires of our flesh, we try to justify our actions by saying:  “Well, Mr. Papineau’s wife does it. I saw her with my own two eyes.”  Or, “Dad, give me a break! Even the elder’s son, Josh is going to it.”  Or, “Nate dresses like that – so why can’t I?”

It’s a strange thing that we sometimes justify our actions by picking a person who is fairly well-respected and then zeroing in on something in their life that may be less than perfect. We take the one thing that’s less than ideal and milk-it for our purposes. If anyone questions me, I will say – “Well, Mike doesn’t see anything wrong with it.”

John writes to Gaius and says: imitate that which is good, excellent, distinguished – follow the best. Don’t focus on the weaker points of others to justify things you want to do. Follow, imitate or mimic only the best of what you see in others.

Even better, ask yourself: would Christ be pleased with my choice? Would He be happy and honored if I did that, went there, said that, chose this, listened to that, looked like this, etc.?  Would I feel comfortable if He borrowed my ‘stuff’ for the day?  The Christian’s standard is no less than Christ Himself.  Follow the best.

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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