3 John 1:1-14,”1The elder,
To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. 4I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 6They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. 8We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth.
9I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. 10So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
11Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
12Demetrius 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.
13I have much to write you, but I do not want to do so with pen and ink. 14I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.”
Things were not apparently cleared up after the first letter, so a second one was called for. But just who is Diotrephes? Why had it been neccessary for us to learn of him by name? Could it be that in an unknown response to the first letter the elder ask what they ought to do about him? Diotrephes, meaning “fed by Jupiter”, was ambitious, proud, disrespectful of the apostles’ authority, rebellious, inhospitable, and he tried to hinder the hospitality of other Christians going so far as to expel them from church, was a problem with a capital P. He was a problem that Paul himself would deal with. Demetrius, on the other hand, was well-known and well-liked. Today we know little more than that. Have you ever dealt with a Christian who was more of a hinderance than a help? It’s bad enough when one person makes everybody miserable, it’s worse when they’re trying to represent Christ in the process.
It’s sort of like this: It’s a busy day – the neighbor’s dog is barking, the computer has gone haywire, the dryer has broken down again, there are bills to be paid, dinner to be cooked, homework for the kids and then the phone rings. You only step on two toys getting to it and are shouting at the kids to tune the music down as you pick up the reciever and ask in the nicest possible tone you can muster, “Hello? Can I help you?” while you’re thinking ‘what can go wrong now?’ There are not many things that we can control, but we can control our attitudes. Which is pretty handy when you’re dealing with your local Diotrephes.