9I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.
10For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.
11Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.
This seems pretty clear cut, doesn’t it? Previously, John talked about loving others. Today, John talks about how not to love. Loving to be first. Christ has told us that in the Kingdom, the first will be last and the last will be first. John is using this opportunity to teach a lesson. He exposes the acts and motivations of Diotrephes in the hopes that the church will see what not to do.
As I’ve said before, by living under a veil of “don’ts” we limit ourselves from what God desires of us. He wants us to live energized with a list of “dos”. So then, how do we take “do not imitate what is evil.” Folks, this is a contrast. It is something to use to look at yourself. If you’re living a burdened life. If everything you do is a struggle. If things aren’t working out to the Glory of God like you expect them to, ask yourself, “am I imitating evil?”. Instead, imitate what is good. Can you see the difference? It’s not about not doing something it’s about doing something. The negative word not restricts us while the latter frees us.
“but it’s the same thing.” Is it? Look at our church organizations today. The ones that live under a list of “don’ts” die by that list of “don’ts”. Remember The Law? that was a list of “don’ts” that did nothing but show how unworthy we are and that we are all sinners. Don’t live a life dictated by sin, live a life dictated by God’s promises.
What list are you living by today?