In a world where people often do whatever it takes to get somewhere, we always have to be on guard and use good discernment. In 3 John, we learn about Diotrephes, a man who, as John puts it, “loves to be first among them” (v. 9). We all know those people, the ones who have to be in charge and usually have to be found right no matter the topic at hand. In the letter, John wrote that “the one who does good is of God” (v. 11). If we remember that, and use God’s Word as the measuring stick, we will make wise decisions.
A person who is first is not always right. We see this in politics with our governing bodies, with company leadership, and even on the school playground. Having a need to be seen above others, usually has less to do with being right, than it does about being in the spotlight. Note how often Jesus did not want the attention, but He was always right. He could have spent hours trying to show people how He was right, but that wasn’t His purpose. He was humble and focused. It was the people around Him that wanted to make Him king.
We are supposed to obey our leadership and respect their authority. This doesn’t mean that we allow God’s design for our lives to be negatively effected by those who wish to be first. When a person tries to be first, they forget one big detail—God is first. No one else can be first no matter how hard a person tries. As you live along side the Diotrephes of our day, those who have to be first and wish to toss around accusations and do whatever it takes to look like the top dog, remember Who is first. Remember Who you serve. As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego showed us, if it goes against what God desires, do not bow down.
“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” – 1 Peter 5:5 [ESV]
Galatians 3 talks about clothing yourself with Christ. I love the wording that Paul uses in that letter. I think of why we clothe ourselves. We put clothing on for protection– protection from the elements, protection from people’s eyes. We clothe ourselves for warmth. We also clothe ourselves in such a way for particular situations. We may dress ourselves for a sporting event, a wedding, school, work, church, etc., and each way is so that we fit whatever we are attending.
Jesus protects us. He is our great Protector. He is our Substitute, who took all the world’s sin upon Him so that we would be able to have eternal life and a relationship with the Father. He also protects us from judgment. People may look with their eyes and judge, but no child of God will be ashamed. That is a promise from His Word. He also has us prepared for any event. The Bible says we will be given the words we need to say. Ephesians 6 even discusses the armor of God. The armor of God includes the sword of the Spirit, His Word.
The world is a corrupt place and it is not always very kind to us. We aren’t going to always have good days or meet up with nice people. We are not guaranteed everything will be okay all of the time. Every day, when you rise to start the day, think about getting dressed. Remember that you are not simply selecting the clothing you will wear for the day. Don’t forget that as a child of God, you are to clothe yourself in Christ. Take Him with you– allow the Spirit to help you through the day. It is a lot easier when you have on your armor. If you are clothed in Christ, you will find strength, peace, patience– it all comes a lot easier.
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” – Galatians 3:26 [NASB]