Chances are you haven’t a clue who Gaius and Diotrephes are. I don’t blame you. They only get a brief mention in John 3, one of the shortest books in the bible. (But if you did happen to know that, then kudos to you. Now go out and get a life…)
But they are mentioned in different circumstances. Gaius is recieving praise from John for his faithfullness and living in the truth. But Diotrephes is getting a slagging for having a bit of an ego problem, wanting to be the leader, and not helping travelling preachers. (read it all in John 3, it shouldn’t take you long!)
And for almost 2000 years they have been imortalised like that, based on how they where at the time John wrote his letter.Which got me wondering. What if he was writing that letter today? And what if he was writing about me? How would I be imortalised? How would you be imortalised? Right now would he write that you were faithful, or full of yourself? Loving, or self-centred? Sincere or half-hearted?
Because as I thought about it, when people look at us they judge us on what they happen to see at the instance when they are looking. And if in that moment we fall short, that is the impression they get of us. And if they know we call ourselves a Christian, that is the impression they’ll get of Christianity. And while it may not be fair to judge people based on one thing we see, the fact is that that is exactly what many people do. You probably just did it with Diotrephes.
And we have no idea what happened after that letter to either Gaius or Diotrephes. Diotrephes could have changed for the better, but the damaging impression remains. The people in your school or uni who see you lose your patience for a brief moment in the corridor have no way of knowing what you are like the rest of the week.
So what’s the practical application point I’m aiming to make? Basically It’s that we need to be constantly striving for the highest possible standard of conduct in our lives, not just so as not to give people an opportunity to form a bad impression of us but as a part of striving to be like Christ in every way. Aim to be remembered as a Gaius like person, rather than a Diotrephes like person.