(Feb 25) The Man Who Loved First Place
"I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority." 3 John 9
Diotrephes is forever known as a man who was filled with arrogance. Scripture records that he loved to put himself first. He was selfish, self-centered, self-seeking...all about himself!
He did not take care of other Christians in need, and he tried to stop others from showing hospitality. He rejected authority and was only interested in protecting his own power.
John writes that Diotrephes loved to "put himself first." Living this way not only turns others away, but it also puts you on a collision course with the purposes of God. The language used to describe the way Diotrephes lived (putting himself in first place) is used only one other time in the New Testament. It is found in Colossians 1:18 which speaks of Christ by saying, "And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent."
Christ is to have the preeminence in the church. The biggest issue with putting yourself in first place is that you are attempting to take what rightly belongs to Christ alone. Our lives should be lived in a way that continually shows the greatness of Jesus.
How easy it is for us to compare ourselves against other people and conclude that we are more deserving, more intelligent, more gifted, more gracious...more anything! We often bring this attitude into the church, and it reveals itself when we think that our opinion should win the day.
We would do well, though, to compare ourselves to God and only then will we get an accurate picture of our own sinful condition. As the Puritan Richard May once wrote, "Should that person be proud who has sinned as you have sinned, and lived as you have lived, and has such a heart as you have?"
How ironic that Diotrephes wanted prestige and desired to be known. Moreover, he indeed is famous, yet for all the wrong reasons. His name has been preserved in the canon of Scripture. He is called out as one seeking to be preeminent in the church. He is deemed guilty of seeking the glory that only belongs to Christ. That is not the way you want to be remembered!
John goes as far as to say that if he can come to where Diotrephes is, he will "bring up what he is doing" (3 John 10). It seems this ol' Son of Thunder still has some noise left in him! John does not take lightly the pride of men who try to steal God's glory.
Let us consider our own hearts today. Is there pride left unchecked? Do we demand others always see things our way? Do you show preference to other people or do we expect them to always cater to us?
Remember, Diotrephes was a man who was always in church. He was highly religious. However, his attendance did not make up for a prideful heart. Neither will ours. May God search our hearts and reveal to us our sins that we may confess and turn to Him for mercy. May it never be said of us that we seek to be first place in our lives. For that is a position to be occupied by the only One worthy: the Lord Jesus Christ.
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