Addressing Misbehavior in the Church
3 John 1:1-14
A well-known leadership expert and pastor once said, “Everything rises and fall on leadership.” True enough, when you look at the Old Testament kings, God’s people rise and fall on their leadership. For instance, King Manasseh, who brought disastrous consequences to God’s people. He brought back polytheism in Judah and for that, God judged the whole nation. (See Jeremiah 15:3-6). Similarly, the New Testament church too, have had leadership challenges. Some unqualified leaders have caused confusion, discord, emotional pain, amongst church members. They have stained the good testimony of the church. Today, we’re going to tackle how the apostle John dealt with an unruly influential church leader.
1. Commending good behavior to empower people to imitate.
“1 The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2 Dear 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.3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth… 12 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.
· John honoured Gaius’ gentle and loving behavior.
· Some traveling missionaries attested to Gaius’ good behavior. (v.5)
· Gaius, and even Demetrius became a model of faith inspired life.
· Good behavior attracts public commendations, uplifting the testimony of the church to outsiders.
2. Choose church leaders who love what is good before God.
“9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us… 11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.”
· Church members normally imitate their leaders.
· Imitating bad attitude would bring relational problems in the church.
· Diotrephes rejected John’s apostolic authority.
· The Bible described Diotrephes as one who loves to be first.
· He was exactly the opposite of the gentle and loving Gaius.
· Church leaders are called to a higher behavioral standard that represents Christ’s righteousness. Titus 1:7-9.
· The leader’s behavior must be attractive enough to encourage people to explore the claims of Jesus, and to listen to the gospel.
3. Nip the evil practices in the bud before it becomes contagious.
“10 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. 11 Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good.”
· The apostle would personally talk to Diotrephes and intentionally address the misbehavior.
· He wanted to stop the evil practice from further harming the church.
· Diotrephes’ malicious accusations were designed to cause emotional pain, stress, and harm to John’s reputation, and harm to the testimony of the whole church.
· He refused to accept traveling missionaries and coerced other members of the church to do the same, revealing that he had great influence over that congregation.
· He opposed the ministry of John.
· John called Diotrephes actions as evil, as they opposed the spread of the Word, opposed God’s people, and ultimately, they opposed God.
As ordinary members of the church, how do we nip the misbehaviors of leaders according to verses 10-11?
· “Do not imitate what is evil,” or do not even entertain what is evil.
· “Do what is biblically good,” imitate “Gaius”.
· Godly leaders of the church must speak directly to the misbehaving member (See verse 10) and follow the instructions for dealing sin in the church in Matthew 18:15-20.