Selfish or Selfless?

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Bible Reading Devotion for September 17, 2017
from Third John found at https://www.esv.org/3+John/.*

by Pastor Jerry Ingalls


What does it mean to be a selfish person?

John warns the early church leader, “the beloved Gaius” about a church leader named “Diotrephes” in the 9th verse of this short letter of 15 verses. How does John describe Diotrephes?

“Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first…” (3 John 9).

John illustrates the point about Diotrephes, who sadly happens to be a church leader:

  • He did not acknowledge the Apostle’s authority.
  • He talked wicked nonsense against us (other church leaders).
  • He refused to welcome the brothers (not hospitable to others).
  • He stopped others from showing hospitality and if they go against him he puts them out of the church (controlling).

In every day terms, a contemporary Diotrephes:

  • Is prideful and not submissive to biblical authority.
  • Is hurtful with his words and tears down the brethren.
  • Is not hospitable to others.
  • Is controlling of others’ behavior and sees others in extremes (you are either for me or against me).

It is unfortunate that there are still classic examples of Diotrephes in the churches today: some are pastors; some are Bible teachers; and some hold no positions in the church, but wield influence amongst the people. It is unfortunate that there are people who think they are spiritual and may even know a lot about the Bible, but they are selfish people who put themselves and their opinions above all other people and matters to the point of tearing down the brethren to raise up their own point of view as superior. These people are selfish. The church suffers for them and is often blind to the disease that is being spread amongst the church like a contagion.

There is an answer: humility and repentance. In Christ, we each can bring selfish thoughts and hurtful behaviors to Jesus and be forgiven. In Christ, we can be transformed from a selfish person to a selfless person. It is a matter of changing your loyalty from yourself to Jesus Christ; it is about faith!

A selfless person in Christ:

  1. Is humble and submissive to biblical authority.
  2. Builds others up with her words, being gentle in correction and loving in admonishment.
  3. Is hospitable to others and is welcoming to other people.
  4. Trusts the work of God and is patient with people as they grow and learn; is not quick to make hasty judgments that exclude or divide the church.

May the grace of God lead you be a selfless person in Christ so that together with John we each may say, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).



*Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

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