Posted by: Brad Beaman | May 3, 2016

Contrast of Testimonies

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3rd John

Don’t you like the old western cowboy movies when you knew who was the good guy  and who was the bad guy. You can pick them out easily in those old movies because the good guy wears the white hat and the bad guy wears the black hat.

This letter makes it obvious who the good guy is and who is the bad guy. Diotrephes wore a black hat and Demetrius wore a white hat. You can easily pick up who is the good guy and who was the bad guy.

The apostle John has written much about believing in Jesus. John told us he wrote his Gospel that you might believe. In his letter 1 John is about assurance of salvation for those who have believed. Now in the letter we know as 3 John he is writing about the believer’s testimony in the church.

John was old when he wrote this letter. It is addressed to Gaius his trusted ministry partner or mentee. John is writing Gaius about a troublemaker in the church. John is not just writing Gaius about this situation. John is himself embroiled in this church controversy.

Can you picture a contrast of testimonies in your mind? A situation where there was a believer with a good testimony and one with a bad testimony. John outlines two church members and mentions their testimonies that are a complete contrast.

We have to deal with all kinds of people in life. Even in the church there are those who do what is evil (that is how john put it) and those who do what is good. Do you want your church to be a New Testament church? Well we have a New Testament church right here in this letter 3rd John. But this NT church had a self-seeking, gossiping manipulator in the center of activities. It is a reminder that the New Testament churches had plenty of problems. Much of the New Testament are letters dealing with the problems.

Poor Gaius found himself in a very difficult situation. But probably there is an important reason this letter is given to us in the Bible. I suspect it is because we will often find ourselves in this kind of situation.

John 13:34-35 John says people will know you are disciples that you love one another. That does not mean we should be getting friendly with self-seeking malicious gossips like Diotrephes. John has such an issue with this trouble maker. He is not telling Gaius to love him but watch out for him.

The background seems to be that John had sent some itinerant speaker to the church and Diotrephes who loves to be first (vs 9-11) Will have nothing to do with John or the brothers John was sending to the church. Diotrephes was gossiping maliciously about John. This guy Diotrephes stops anyone who welcomes who John send and puts them out of the church. Yep, Diotrephes is the bad guy.

The good guy is Demetrius. He has a wonderful testimony. He is well spoken of by everyone, and by the truth and by John.

Now Gaius has to navigate the clash of testimonies. John guides Gaius in this. Do not imitate was it evil but what is good. Gaius may have some tough choices in navigating the relationships in the church, but they are clear. Gaius needs to stand with Demetrius and stand up to Diotrephes.

One application that comes from this brief letter is watch your testimony. By all means be the Demetrius that is well spoken of. Do not become the self-seeking malicious gossip. Gaius was sure on the right path and John could say that others were speaking of Gaius as a man of love and hospitality.

Another application is to be very careful in your relationships. Stand with the believers who are well-spoken of in the fellowship. This is going to take discernment because you won’t find people wearing white hats and black hats, but this letter can help us navigate the road to our fruitful relationships.

 

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