A Dangerous Pitfall for Elders, Deacons, Preachers, and Church Leaders

How could anyone not love the apostle John? Jesus loved him and four times the Bible described this apostle as the one whom Jesus loved (John 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). He was so special that Jesus even committed to him the care of His mother!

How could anyone not love John? John uses the word “love” over 100 times in his writings. You cannot read his words without seeing the gentleness of this man. How could anyone not love and respect him?

Add to this the fact that he was an apostle. He was one of the “inner three” who were the only apostles to witness the resurrection of Jairius’ daughter, the transfiguration and who were closest to Him in Gethsemane. Even if there was someone who did not love John, how could anyone not respect him?

As strange as it might seem, there was one man who had no use for this apostle who was so close to the Master. John even wrote a letter to the church where this man was a member and he did all he could to keep it from having any impact on the other members. What kind of heart must one have to not see how great this apostle was?

Look at how John described this man in 3 John 9-10. “I wrote to the church, but, Diotrephes, who loved to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 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 no receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.”

What kind of man does it take to treat a godly man in such this way? What kind of man does it take to use malicious words to harm the apostle? What kind of man does it take to forbid others to show hospitality and kindness to other faithful brethren? What kind of man does it take to force those whose hearts were filled with kindness to leave the church?

The answer found in one simple phrase—he loves to have the preeminence. Men with such hearts, while seemingly members of the church, are men who use the church as a means to exalt themselves. It is the pitfall of many church leaders. It is seen in preachers, who long to be noticed in the church, to preach at large churches and be used widely. They do not serve the church, they use the church. It is seen in elders who use their position and lord it over the church, and even lord it over the other elders, ignoring their wishes until he gets his way. It is seen in deacons who love the honor of being deacons, but never do the work.

The church is not a place of preeminence. It is a place of service! It must never be used, it must always be served!

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