What can we learn from this unknown man in the Bible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
In my nightly Bible reading, I have been reading 3 John. This is a really short book so I read one verse a night and just think about it. The book opens with a greeting to the recipient, Gaius, who the author, who we will refer to as John be it the elder or apostle, prays that Gaius may be as well in body as he is in soul. This man must have a very good soul.
In the middle of the letter, we read about a man named Diotrephes. John writes that Diotrephes does not welcome him and those with him and spreads malicious nonsense anyway. When John comes, he will call attention to what is being done. After that, he tells Gaius to not imitate what is evil because those who do what is evil have not seen God. This I take to certainly be pointing back to Diotrephes.
Yet something else is said about Diotrephes.
He likes to be first.
So let’s consider the irony here. Gaius is as far as we know a quite humble individual. John speaks glowingly of him. Diotrephes is apparently a leader of the church since he has authority and his goal has been to be first. He wants to be the big man.
In his time, he could have been that. Yet here is the problem. His pride was keeping the good teaching out of the church because he wanted to be the one in power. He wanted to get the attention that would hold him up in honor.
What makes this even more ironic is that Diotrephes because of his pride wanted this number one position. He wanted to be known as the leader and no doubt, to be remembered as the leader. He took all these steps to insure that he was number one.
Yet today, we see Gaius being the recipient of this letter and him being the one spoken of in glowing terms. Meanwhile, everyone who has ever read this letter knows that Diotrephes is the bad guy. He wanted to be number one, but now he’s being seen as the villain that he is.
Because of his pride, Diotrephes did not become the first. In his eager dash for honor, he is now a person of shame. Not only that, he is that for all time. Anyone who reads the Bible will want to be more like Gaius than they will Diotrephes.
C.S. Lewis said that pride was the greatest of the sins, and indeed it is. It is because of the pride of Diotrephes that he is not remembered well in church history. Diotrephes had his own small community that he wanted to be number one at. Instead, not only did John publicly call him out, but all churches everywhere know that Diotrephes is someone you should not be like. Diotrephes’s pride led to a greater fall so that here, nearly 2,000 years later, he is still remembered as the villain of the letter.
Pride has no place in the church today at all still. When we are tempted, let’s remember Diotrephes and the impact he had on the church. We won’t appear in the Scriptures, to be sure, but eternity will remember what we do and the effects of our actions will carry over there. Make sure it’s something good for you. If you are a church leader definitely, do all you can to avoid pride.