Men to Know: Diotrephes

Good Host Diotrephes

Diotrephes, that is not a name that rings a bell. It didn’t for me anyway. I’m not a learned scholar of God’s word but I do the best I can to learn more so when I read about Diotrephes I just kind of had a “huh, interesting” moment. You can read about Diotrephes in 3 John 1:9-11, yep just two verses.

Context

The whole idea behind the third epistle is to shed light on two very distinct ways that churches were being towards guests. That one is welcoming (Gaius) while the other is not a gracious host. The guests that the epistle speaks about in 3 John 1:5 are believers. The word for “brother and sisters
used in Greek is adelphoi which refers to brethren in God’s family.

Diotrephes

Diotrephes loved being first. So much so that he would not welcome any one as guests to the church he tended. Those outsiders would bring influence and that would challenge his authority in the church. Not only did he turn away guests but he did his best to spread dissension among his flock about people wanting to visit. If those people tried to help those outsiders he would throw them out of the church. He loved power and put it above Christ. It’s easy to say, “He shouldn’t do that.” because we know that putting anything above Christ is wrong. There is more to Diotrephes that we can learn than just he usurped Christ in his heart with power.

Servant Leadership

This was the non-obvious thing that Diotrephes was missing. He was not applying the words Christ spoke (Matthew 20:26-28) that He emulated throughout his life on earth, Diotrephes was not being a serving leader. Even businesses today understand the benefits of this type of leadership and it was not being applied in the most important place,  God’s house. The Son of Man left his place in heaven, lived among us and even washed our feet. That wasn’t enough, He chose to then die for us (Mark 10:45). None of which we deserved and yet he chose to serve us so that he could lead us back to God.

Conclusion

The third epistle of John compares Gaius to Diotrephes and urges deperately for Gaius to follow good examples. God’s given us the very best role model we could ever have. He’s a perfect one, His Son. We must be gracious and discerning hosts. As men we must lead our family, our church by serving them. This is why we are called to love our wives as Christ loves the church. Christ has no bottom floor to how far he would go to cement the church under God’s authority. He leads the church with every intention of elevating it to God’s glory. By shunning others Diotrephes was trying to get in the way of Gods’ desires. There is no record of whether Diotrephes ever turned from those destructive ways but in the here and now, if we can aim to live like Paul tells us in Romans 12:9-13 we can fulfill our duties as hosts to our adelphoi and to the unbeliever we can show them what Christ was really all about.

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Serve Each Other In Love

Serve

Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him. – 1 John 3:18-19

We talk about love around here. You could say we got a whole lotta’ lovin’ even. It’s significant to us as Christians. It’s something as men we need to embrace because we are responsible for our households. Not just in money or chores but in the deepest way we know, our spirit. Men are responsible for the spiritual wholesomeness of their homes. One way we can teach this is how we shove love to others through service to them. We’ve talked about serving one another before, let’s go deeper and talk about the difference in serving to serve and to serve in love.

Serve in Love

Anyone can provide a service to one another. It can be great customer friendly service that will make the person come back for help when they need it again. That’s great but is it in love? Maybe love of the profession but love for the customer is what I am inquiring about. Love for your service done with Christ at the forefront. If we do service so that others may see that we are doing service then we defeat the purpose of what it means to serve (Matthew 6:1). Do deeds for the sake of being a Christian and not because someone may think well of you. That’s the easiest way to serve in love. Letting go of our pride and saying, “Hey, they need help.” then thoughtlessly doing it.

That’s the big thing, you have God’s love in you. There is no effort to help others and be there for them. You’ll find happier people are surrounding you when you can cast away that need to get something out of it for yourself. If we can put this in to our household and show love to others in practical ways we are doing the work we are commanded to do. Help and support out of love and not just to get it over with.  I’ve done it, I want to do something but I keep getting asked to do this or that and get frustrated but if I take a moment and address the situation as this. The woman I love, who I am called upon to protect and serve in love, is asking me to do just that. I don’t want to fail my commitment to her. That is bitterness (Hebrews 12:14-15) and it is a weed that can grow quick and deeply. Better to stamp it out before it takes hold. Love. Serve. Love to Serve. Most importantly, Serve in Love.

Serve The Lord

Serve The Lord

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. – Ephesians 4:1

Being a prisoner for the Lord. It’s a powerful idea. It’s also terrifying. We like to control things, it’s easily one of the things I personally struggle with. I am getting better at it but at one time it was almost impossible for me to just lift my hands and say, “Yep, God, You take this, I know you have the control.” I thought I needed to do it all, I needed to set my destiny. Paul on the other hand is the epitome of what a prisoner for the Lord meant. His words can be taken as a double entendre because at the time he wrote this epistle he was a prisoner of Rome because of serving Christ and on the other hand when you accept Jesus’ Lordship you accept Him as master. You serve under His will.

Serving others is a life worthy of the calling we receive. For some of us that is missionary work. Others it is front-line ministry. Yet again it may be the friendly face at the doors of the church welcoming regular attendees and then newcomers. It doesn’t matter what path God sets on your heart, what matters is that you are serving Him by being willing to serve others. Jesus specifically told us that the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve others (Mark 10:45) and He went farther than just serving in the sense of washing feet or getting food. The last half of that verse shows how He served humanity, His life ransomed for many. That’s you, that’s me. I’m not saying run out and serve someone by finding death through risking your life for them although in the heat of the moment is a different thing altogether.

Serve Like Christ

Jesus who gave up all of the powers of Godhood humbled himself to wash the feet of the disciples, to sit with sinners and to die for all of us. He calls us to serve others, that’s it. That is why our burden is so much lighter than the one He had to carry. He died for all of us, not just one person but everyone.

To serve like Jesus did is to show love and compassion for others. Help the widow with carrying groceries or the Veteran that is homeless. Those times when you’re interacting with them one on one is a chance to share your testimony with them by acting in kindness. That one gesture may be what God uses to pull their brokenness to Him and begin piecing things together for their salvation. What if a week later that Veteran comes up and asks why you were so kind and you tell them because Jesus; then you get them to come to church once, no pressure. They keep coming and then they accept Christ as Savior and Lord.

You just did the work Christ commissioned us to do and all you did was be kind. You didn’t go to some far flung land and become a missionary. Missionary work is not for everyone, it’s a heroic effort in all the good ways to me. But being kind doesn’t take heroic effort normally. It takes more to be unkind than to follow the directions Christ gave us.

Not every person you help is going to want to hear your testimony and it’s likely the majority won’t. The example I gave just illustrates how God can use you and it takes no effort on your part aside from showing someone how kind you are. It would be great if it always worked that way but dispel thoughts of grandeur and settle in reality that you do it for the potential of glorifying God.

Final Thoughts

The best way to serve the Lord is to do what he has commanded of us. As a prisoner of Christ we should be eager to reach out and share our experiences as we have went from our lowest lows to the highest highs that only God can provide. It takes more thought and energy to be cruel than it does to simply react and help someone. Jesus helped the world knowing that His reward would be that humanity would slay Him. You know what helping others does for us? We serve the Lord in that capacity and have the chance to glorify Him. If we are doing it for any other reason aside from a genuine desire to help someone then we aren’t following the commandments of our Master. He delights in our joy of Him.

Serve selflessly because Jesus gave it all. He deserves nothing less than all of what we can give Him.

Daily Devotional – Child of God

God's Child

To be blessed with a child is the most precious gift next to our salvation that God bestows on us in this life. What do you love more than anything? For me it is my kids. I am not taking away from my love for God at all. I believe it is a different kind of love. You can’t fully explain either. They both make your chest swell and your eyes fill with tears. The difference I think is in how these differing loves affect us.

A Child’s Love

A child’s love can provide soothing peace after a long day of work. It’s one of the first things I look for when I come home. I set my backpack down and if they don’t know I am home I shout, “Where’s my kids?!” and then the pounding of feet and I am tackled. Even if I were sore I would happily bear that pain as they crash into me because there is no place I’d rather be. Until later in the day they don’t like what I have to say and throw a huge tantrum! That’s where things diverge, our children and even we forget our love when other emotions take over. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or to defend yourself against. My boy tells me he doesn’t love me when he is not happy with my choices for him. As a father you know that is just not true and even though it stings you smile and tell them you love them anyway.

God’s Love

Is perfect. It doesn’t change even if we curse the things He has chosen for us. Even when we decide not to live for Him and then come crawling back. It is the same consistent love over and over. That is why He is the perfect Father. He will run to meet us if we truly want Him there. That is why the parable of the Prodigal Son is so powerful. Man was God’s child before the Fall and afterward the only way we can be adopted back in is through the heartfelt desire of His grace and love. He thought nothing of his son’s desire to run off and sow his wild oats and he thought nothing of his son’s return except that he was home and he could love on him once more.

Final Thoughts

God let’s us have those glimpses of His love you know. Like when you hold this angry red child fresh from the womb and you want to bawl more than they are. When you are at the bottom of the depths of your despair and there is no way out, that whisper in your heart, that urge in your mind to become better, to become one with Him. When you’re at church and the music wraps itself around you and you can’t help but raise your arms up. That’s just a tickle of His love. It’s effervescent and the only way to capture it is to be like David and go after God’s own heart. To seize the chance to say, “Here I am Father! Love me! Allow me to love you!” When you get to that place, you’ll experience love in a way you could never imagine.

Daily Devotional – The Palms of His Hands

Palms of His Hands

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me. – Isaiah 49:15-16

When you have children, biological or adopted they become everything. You shower them with as much wonderful love as you can but also have to deal with the bad side. We never forget our children, it is impossible to. Whether they are throwing tantrums or winning awards we are there until God decides we have to come home. Parenting is one of the most rewarding relationships and also the most trying. In fact, it is the second on the list I feel. The first is your relationship with Christ. Through His blood we have been cemented in our relationship with God. The palms of His hands are all the evidence we need to see how deep God’s love goes.

The Hard Part of Parenting

Long nights with sick children. A willful teenager doing everything but what you raised them on. The unexpected loss of a child. These are the things that can make a parent irritable, flat out angry and heartbroken. We experience some or all of these as children grow. I am in no way minimizing the struggles of earthly parenting when I say this but God has endured that for millennia. He has created us and we often thumb our nose at God or see Him as dead because we don’t see the movement we want in our lives occur. This leads us to feel like we are better than he when we are really wretched (Revelation 3:17) and the spoiled child. We think that everything we have gained is because of our own works. Our children can feel the same way because they don’t understand the resources we pour into raising them or the sacrifices we make for them. God tells us about the resources and the sacrifices He made for us and we tend to ignore that. He, like us, have it hard at parenting.

The Good Part of Parenting

Limitless love. Bottomless grace. Good News. God gives us all of those things. As parents we get to see the wonders of our children as they grow into adults. From discovering how awesome macaroni and cheese is to the almost divine place pizza holds. We watch countless hours of Paw Patrol or PJ Masks to enjoy time with our kids. When we take an active role in parenting the way God has with us then we really truly reap the rewards of those sleepless nights and the butting of wills. Adoration, hugs, kisses and laughter should fill a home. God’s words inspire these things if we listen.

Final Thoughts

God’s sacrifices are shown in the palms of Jesus’ hands. His son was killed, frankly outright murdered for spreading the word. His feet, his side and his palms are testimony that even that sacrifice wasn’t too great because He has adopted us into His home if we come to Him seeking the truth. The next time I find myself wondering if God really cares I just need to look at my unmarred palms and realize that Jesus took that burden and allowed my skin to be untouched. He took the sin and allowed my could to be cleansed. Just look at your hands and examine your palms. Something so simple and if we stop to appreciate it, I think it will bring our focus back where it belongs. On God.

My Salvation Is Secondary

Salvation is secondary

Man, that’s deep already.

I’m not going to apologize if that headline offends you. It should. It should also get your attention to the very serious nature of what I want to talk about. It’s been on my heart like an 800-pound Gorilla named Sparky. While talking with a friend we discussed a man’s primary duty as the leader of his home. After we talked I just had this consistent push in my mind telling me that my salvation was secondary but why?

Be the Shepherd

We are charged with leading our homes all over the bible and we struggle with that because we are human. The reason why I say our (as men) salvation is secondary is because we should be concerned with those in our household and where they are in Christ. It is said in Proverbs 22:6 that the way we raise children will determine their behavior in life. This is common sense stuff and does not have to be non-secular. In fact the NYU School of Medicine has a great site about child psychology and years of research behind it. You are the shepherd of the flock that God blesses you with on earth. Shepherds do not let their flock wander from them.

Bear Fruit

I talked about the farmer when I talked about nourishment and it’s consistency but I guess I did not get it across clearly enough because God has put it on my heart to write about it once again. In Deuteronomy 28:1-6 we are promised many a great blessings if we honor God’s commandments but in the same chapter (Deuteronomy 28:47-48) we are warned what happens if we fail. The work you do or the lack thereof is directly proportionate to how much God will bless you. He rewards the believer with salvation. He rewards those who understand they were chosen (John15:16) to bear witness for him

It’s Christ Like

Consider this simple thought that we all know to be truth. God is our father and he gave use Jesus so that we may be redeemed through his death and resurrection. Apply it to what is on my heart friends, God, with no requirement to, gave us his most precious thing. His Son. We are charged too with his most precious of things, his children (our children). Jesus gave his life for our salvation. Why can we not, set our desire to be fed aside and put our work in to how our children are raised? Our futures are secure, theirs are not. We, once saved, make a commitment to become like Him (Ephesians 4:23-24). I want to clarify something when I say put our desire to be fed aside in that we make sacrifices to ensure they are fed first. As grown adults we have the ability to self-feed by chasing God. If our eyes, our goals and our hearts are on him then the rest follows through like water in a channel. Pour ourselves in to Godly work and we are fed naturally. Our children do not have that knowledge or ability yet and even as they grow and become adults we still steward them as much as we can.

If we want to be like Him (1 John 2:5-6) then we should put our salvation to the side when we are secure in it. Not only to help our children but to help others as well. Whether you are making that choice for your children, a homeless man on the street or a lost sibling when we understand that true strength comes from our humility and willingness to sensibly sacrifice things and comforts for the encouragement and service to others we will grow. They will grow. Our salvation is secondary in this world when we take on the cross and bear it for others. God will put that salvation first in the end of our days and we will be greatly rewarded.

Learning to be Last

It is hard for anyone to always put themselves last in this world because many of us live in a society that often times thinks of themselves first even when we profess subjugation of our own will. It is a fault of man and one that we must understand and ultimately find peace with. As a man with a family that often means our desires are put to the side in lieu of others.

When Paul and Timothy were writing to the Philippians he encouraged them to show humility like Christ [Philippians 2:3-4] and that is something we should strive for.

It has not been easy for me and is it ever fully solved? No, but because I do want to be more like Christ I have to remind myself that I am second or third or fifth. Christ could have left us to our own demise and allowed us to fester and stay permanently separated from God but instead he made himself last. Last of every soul that has came, gone and will come. He chose to come down to Earth and live as we live. He chose to understand us more intimately than we could imagine and then even though we aren’t worthy he stepped between his father and said, “They are not perfect, they are not worthy but they could be. Not all hope is lost.”

Can we be that humble? Can I? It’s a question I strive to answer every day. I don’t get it right all of the time and I won’t. I don’t expect to. You can get it right some of the time too because we could be worthy. We can be worthy of God’s love. We can be worthy of the love of our wives or significant others. We can be worthy of the love of the children in our lives. We just have to try and to give up ourselves. Much like we should be doing when we take our journey to be more like Christ.

So how do we keep this mindset of being last without feeling hopeless?

  1. Make a list either written or mental of the things you have done for others. See how it has impacted their life and admire the work you have done. It’s hard to see that sometimes but reminders are important so you don’t feel like you’re doing something in vain.
  2. Wear something that professes that so you have a visual cue. One of my favorite things is a silicone bracelet I have from I Am Second and a friend asked me about the bracelet. I explained and then I gave it to him without thought. [2 Corinthians 9:7] The next week he had a different one for me that I wear daily.
  3. Listen to your heart. Our mind often complicates things for us more than we would like. If you see someone in need, help them. [Proverbs 4:23] This was something I was happy to show Elijah (my favorite little boy in the world) one day when he was playing at the soft play area in the mall. There was a boy there that had taken one of his toys. Long story short the boy was autistic and when I asked him for the toy back his mother apologized profusely and gave me the toy. I sat down and put Elijah on my knee and explained to him that there are many toys in the world just like this one but maybe this toy was destined for the little boy. He understood what I was getting at and gave the toy to the little boy. The mom was thankful and almost in tears and I couldn’t be a more proud parent.

That is just a few ways we can keep on that path to being last and being happy. If Christ can give up everything including his life then surely we can give up some of us to enrich others. You never know how much a small act of selflessness can change someone’s world.

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