What Would Our Reputation Be?
If a visitor were to come to our church and attended a worship service and later was asked what they thought of us, what would their answer be? Would they say that only one or two people spoke with them or would they comment on how friendly everyone was? Would they tell of being invited to stay for fellowship time? I wonder what our reputation is in our community.
John is writing this letter in response to what he has heard from those who had come from one of his churches.
It 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. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth. I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So 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. Dear 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. 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.
Hospitality was taken ver seriously in John’s day, by the Greeks, the Jews, and the Christians. It was especially important for Christian missionaries who travelled without receiving support from non-believers. John contrasts how some missionaries are being received by different people in the church.
Loves to be first
Has nothing to do with John
Refuses to welcome the brothers
Stops and puts out those who want to
Seems to have the attitude, “Nobody else is going to tell me what to do”.
Dr. A. T. Robertson once wrote an article for a Southern Baptist state magazine. He described the conduct of the biblical Diotrephes. Twenty-five deacons from various Baptist churches wrote to the editor, canceling their subscriptions. They contended that Robertson was writing about them
The person John is writing to, has heard about him from the brothers
Faithful to the truth - behavior that is in accordance with God’s will, his practice matches his profession
Faithful in what he is doing for the brothers
The news John has heard about Gaius brings him great joy.
Well spoken of
Vouched for by the truth itself - Demetrius’ character and doctrine were in such conformity with that truth that the truth itself virtually spoke on his behalf.
John himself speaks well of him
Gaius and Demetrius had good reputations because of the way they welcomed strangers
Diotrephes’ reptation was evil because he did not recognize John’s authority but wanted to be first himself and he refused to welcome the missionaries and put out those who did.
We are called to follow the example of those who do good. Our conduct toward others reflects our relationship with God.
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
Charles Spurgeon said in one of his sermons:
“The gospel is something like an illustrated paper. The preacher’s words are the letterpress, but the pictures are the living men and women who form our churches; and as when people take up such a newspaper, they very often do not read the letterpress, but they always look at the pictures—so in a church, outsiders may not come to hear the preacher, but they always consider, observe, and criticise the lives of the members. If you would be soul-winners, then, dear brethren and sisters, see that you live the gospel. I have no greater joy than this, that my children walk in the truth.”
If John’s representatives visited our church what report would thy bring back?