Those who love to be first bring harm to the church

Read: 3 John

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. (3 John 1:9-10)


As ever, I shouldn’t be surprised at the aptness of God’s word to current events, whether on the world stage or in my own life. Substitute “Diotrephes” with “Chinese President Xi Jinping” and this passage still makes sense.

Mr Xi, like all national leaders, I suspect, loves to be first. He is not welcoming to John – that is, through John’s writings in the Bible, which the President wants to re-write. The coming of John, through his gospel, epistles and Revelation, shows the Chinese government to be full of nonsense. So Mr Xi refuses to let the Bible be sold unless it (and all Christianity in China) is adapted for socialist society:

Mr Xi had said religions could operate only if they were “Chinese in orientation” and that Beijing “must provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt themselves to socialist society” — which experts saw as an part of an ongoing crackdown by the ruling party. (abc.net.au)

The truth is, until Jesus returns there will be people in every country who reject God’s word and refuse God’s messengers.

But what if I substitute my own name in the place of Diotrephes’s name: Do I love to be first? Do I ever reject the messengers who bring God’s truth? Do I refuse to welcome believers who come as visitors to my local church? Do I discourage others to exercise hospitality to these visitors, being overly suspicious? Do I spread gossip about other believers, whether visitors or not? Is my response to my own husband’s sermons (he is my pastor after all) sometimes unwelcoming of the message God gives him for me? Do I think I am better off if I try to do Christianity on my own, apart from a local church body?

May it not be so!


Those who love to be first bring harm to the church.


LORD God Almighty,

Make me humble, please! Help me to think of others, to be compassionate. Make me kind-hearted, generous, hospitable, welcoming. Help me to put others before myself, to be willing to serve.

I confess I all-too-frequently love to be first. I want to be first in line, first down the highway, first to lead, first to speak, first to act. I need to slow down and let others go first; let Jesus go first. I need to be willing to come in second, last, to DNF or even DNS at some things. Please forgive me.

LORD, I need to trust you more. I need to remember that it is you who establish my steps, you who make straight my paths. LORD, I need to trust you to get me where I need to be, to place me among those you want me to be with. Help me, please.