Matters of Faith: Judgmental and Controlling

By Rev. J. Loren Russell

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.

3 John 9 (NKJV)

One of the shortest books in the Bible, the fourteen verses of 3 John can be read in less than five minutes. However, it will take considerably longer if you really examine and apply its content.

John the Elder, as he refers to himself, identifies three persons in this epistle. First, he commends the beloved Gaius. Nothing is known about this man except that he may have been a leader in one of the churches in the area. He is also praised him for the way he takes care of himself; living by the standards of the Gospel, as well as the hospitality and generous gifts he gave the traveling teachers and missionaries who passed through the church. He tells Gaius that those men were ambassadors for the Lord who take no money, food, clothing or accept shelter from those with whom they share the Gospel. That act of service made him a partner in the work of the Lord.

The third person John identifies is Demetrius. This man showed the kind of Christian behavior that every follower of Christ needed to exemplify and emulate. According to John, Demetrius was an honorable man.

Sandwiched between these two great men was a man by the name of Diotrephes. He too was a leader of one of the churches in the area, but unlike Gaius and Demetrius, he intended to control that church and its people through selfish, divisive and judgementalism. Diotrephes refused to follow John’s leadership, would not submit to his authority, and speaks wicked and negative things about him. Even more repulsive was his refusal to allow the missionary travelers into the church and would reprimand anyone in the church who did. If he found them in the church community, he would it only put them out but the ones who helped as well.

Diotrephes’ had an attitude of superiority and sought to control the people. John describes him as someone whose arrogance that shouted, “It’s my way or the highway.” Everybody was wrong but him. Iyanla Vanzant says in her book, Until Today, that “the wrong you attribute to them actually belongs to you” (p. March 4). She is so on point! Whenever someone has judgmental and controlling personalities and/or behaviors, they are really exhibiting signs of fear. In their attempt to feel better about themselves, they try to make everyone else fear them.

Diotrephes shows how judgmental control distracts and from the things that we should be doing for ourselves and one another. Gaius and Demetrius are examples of how not to judge or try to control others. They show us how to esteem others and honor them for who they are.

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial Strategy & Consulting; an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx; creator/host of “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Monday’s 8:00 – 10:00 PM (626-226-1448), author of Matters of Faith: The Book.

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