Message summary: Do not imitate what is evil but what is good!
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We’ve had our cat Dottie for nearly 18 years now. We picked her out of the litter born to a barn cat when we first moved to Lancaster County in 2001. In her old age she’s slowing down but still appears reasonably healthy and begins purring loudly whenever she is picked up. Saturday she had her rabies vaccine shot at Tractor Supply, the only time she ever makes a trip out, which seems to be enough for her liking.
One of Dottie’s peculiar characteristics is she likes to find creative new places to lie down. For instance if I tear down a box and place it on the barn floor she has to check it out. I suppose she’s assessing whether it might be just a little bit more comfortable than all the other familiar places where she lies down. About 99% of her current schedule is spent lying down and resting. This is up considerably from the 90% she had used for lying down and resting when she was in her prime younger years.
Once Brooksyne came into our home office and there was Dottie, lying right across the computer keyboard. Perhaps the keys had a therapeutic, comforting affect on her back as she was sleeping. (Actually I imagine if I were able to lie down on a 6½ foot keyboard it might be rather comfortable in a strange sort of way!)
Afterwards we noticed problems with the computer. The screen was dark and the wireless would not work. Initially I made no association with the problem and Dottie’s lying on the keyboard so I spent several hours troubleshooting the problem to my great frustration. Finally I discovered that the problem was related to Dottie’s brief siesta on the keyboard. She had apparently hit several key combinations disrupting the computer!
Now Dottie is just a cat and I’m sure she wasn’t trying to be disruptive but that’s not always the case with humans, who really should know better. Some people are characterized by their disruptive behavior and/or attitudes!
Diotrephes is one of those interesting Bible characters who reminds us that the early church had problem people just like churches in our own day and throughout the generations. But he was a real corker! His character is summed up in the phrase “who loves to be first”. Apparently he never learned the childhood concept expressed in the simple acronym “JOY” (Jesus, others & you, what a wonderful way to spell joy.)
In the passage the beloved Apostle John goes on to say, “So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good” (v. 10). I use a descriptive adjective for this Bible character, “Disruptive Diotrephes”. Looking back, I have dealt with some troubled people through the years and a few real troublemakers as well, but really, no one like this Diotrephes!
I sure don’t want to be like a disruptive Diotrephes! I’d rather follow the example of dedicated Demetrius, whom we mentioned in yesterday’s message, another lesser-known Bible character whose story is told in 3 John as well. “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” (v.12).
Daily prayer: Father, I desire to honor You as I develop and maintain healthy relationships with others in the body of Christ. Help me to resist the temptation to always be first as I put to death my selfish nature. I want to apply Your love and grace toward others, especially in matters where I lack understanding or where I may express myself differently than those who have authority over me. Remind me to be quick to pray and slow to criticize so that I do not disrupt the work of the Holy Spirit in my life or in the life of the church. Amen.