3 John 9-10 “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”
The term “churched” refers to the action taken by a local New Testament church to remove someone from fellowship. Each church should have a process and procedure that follows biblical guidelines to perform such an act.
Removing someone from fellowship in any church is a serious matter. The intent of this author is not to delve into the policy and procedure or ‘how to.’
What struck me this morning is the attitude of Diotrephes and the resulting actions that took place because of it.
Diotrephes loved the preeminence. He loved the limelight, attention, praise, and favor that came with his position. He wanted to be first in line, first to be acknowledged, and first to received reward.
Ultimately, he allowed pride to enter and begin to make his decisions for him.
When this begins to happen, we begin to compare ourselves among ourselves, which the Word of God strongly admonishes.
2 Corinthians 10:12 “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
Diotrephes began to position himself against those who didn’t believe like he did, worship like he did and cast out those who differed from that belief.
The disciples saw another who was acting on Christ’s behalf. They asked if they should forbid him from serving because he was not like them.
Luke 9:49-50 “And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us. And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.”
My pastor made this statement:
“We must take heed. We are around right so often that we begin to think that we are right in everything.”
Being right in an argument engenders pride if you do not give credit to the One who gave us the wisdom to be right. Paul acknowledged that within himself dwelt nothing worthy of note. All the praise for anything good was ascribed to Christ.
Romans 7:18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
Diotrephes not only thought he was right, but he also began to tell others just how right he was by denouncing those who weren’t just like him.
“…prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”
When we allow pride to guide our actions, division and destruction will follow.
The one behind it all is masterful in the use of pride to accomplish his task. When pride was found in his heart, he rose up against the Father, wanting what the Father had.
Isaiah 14:12-14 “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”
What is at stake here is the future of the church.
If we allow such pride to rule our actions and our words, destruction and devastation will follow. Restoration is the goal. If that cannot be achieved, then, and only then, must that one be removed for the sake of the whole.
We are given specific guidelines that begin here:
Galatians 6:1-6 “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”
Paul gave the church in Galatia a path to restore one that has broken fellowship, overtaken in a fault.
The process of mentoring someone through restoration is an arduous task, to be sure. It takes commitment and sacrifice. It must be Spirit-led. There are no specific steps to outline because each of us is unique, so is the path they must follow.
There are biblical guidelines to follow, and above all, the mentor MUST be spiritual, lest they be tempted as well.
The year 2020 has taught us how to deal with isolation and separation. Some churches are no longer operating because they did not learn how to keep before the true purpose of their existence; seeking the lost, restoring those who’ve gone astray, and maintaining the flock of God.
It is never an easy task. But we are promised that we will not be alone.
Always remember: we serve the God of the impossible!