I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us…he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.
Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone—and even by the truth itself. We also speak well of him, and you know that our testimony is true. 2 John 1:9, 10b, 12
When I was a kid and my mother had to take me to the Doctor’s office, there was always a Highlights magazine to peruse in the lobby. One of the regular features inside Highlights was a comic called Goofus and Gallant which simply contrasted the behaviors of good and bad behavior. Goofus always behaved improperly and Gallant always did the proper thing.
I thought of the two characters from my childhood as I read today’s chapter. In his letter to his friend Gaius, Paul calls out two specific men. First he calls out Diotrephes the self-seeker who is unwelcoming and mean spirited. Next, he compliments Demetrius who has a positive reputation among all the believers.
Today, I’m thinking about simple contrasts. Goofus and Gallant. Diotrephes and Demetrius. Sometimes life boils down to very simple questions:
Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1 (NLT)
There was a certain executive I knew. Bright, intelligent and charismatic, this man made things happen. He made good things happen to the mutual benefit of everyone in his company. This gentleman was a winner and was on the fast track to great things.
Then, one day, he was gone. Suddenly, without warning, he wasn’t there and the company has kept their lips tightly sealed with regard to the reason. One coworker quipped that the departed executive had become Voldemort (e.g. “He who must not be named”). Another, who could not and would not speak of the circumstances for the exec’s leaving simply said of the man, “He’s dead to me now. So sad. Worse than the fortune he gave up was the loss of his reputation around here.”
Perhaps it’s because of that last statement that the image of this person came to mind when I read the first proverb in today’s chapter. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. Lord knows, I can’t point a finger without three pointing back at me. Nevertheless, I am reminded this morning that a man’s reputation – whether it is justly or unjustly destroyed – is incredibly difficult to rebuild.
God gave Solomon wisdom—the deepest of understanding and the largest of hearts.1 Kings 4:29 (MSG)
Along my journey, I have had the privilege of conducting a number of funeral services. Most people don't consider the task a privilege, but I've always found funerals to be an extroadinary event for individuals and families. Death is the ultimate rite of passage, and walking with a family through the traumatic event provides life lessons most people will never experience.
For example, when preparing to deliver a eulogy and a funeral message, I usually meet with the family and ask them just to take some time to talk about and tell stories about their loved one who has passed on. It can be a really tender, special time or it can be an agonizing, painful experience.You begin to learn a lot about who this person by the legacy they left behind through their loved ones descriptions.
When I read today's chapter and came to the writer's summary of Solomon, I was struck by the description that Solomon had "the deepest of understanding and the largest of hearts." Wow. That's not a bad legacy to leave behind. I'd consider my journey well traveled if my loved ones, gathering together at my passing, would describe me with those words.