Early in the novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Jane is sent to Lowood School, a charitable institution that educated orphans and poor girls. A victim of various injustices, she arrives angry and wanting revenge. At the school, however, she makes friends with a girl named Helen Burns. From Helen, she learns about perseverance, kindness, and forgiveness. She resolves to imitate her friend instead of nursing her grudges.
Imitating good is a biblical principle for Christian behavior. While Gaius would have been a good example to follow (3 John 1), Diotrephes was clearly not (vv. 9–10). John describes him as a person who “loves to be first” (v. 9). He didn’t have a servant attitude but a prideful one. He didn’t practice the hospitality or missionary support described yesterday, but went so far as to forbid it and to excommunicate those who disobeyed him. He’d ignored a letter from John and was spreading “malicious nonsense” about him (v. 10). In modern terms, he was a “control freak”—a self-centered leader trying to build up power and position rather than working for the sake of the gospel. John would deal with him when he came in person.
We should imitate good examples, like Demetrius, who may have been the bearer of this letter (v. 12). He’d proved by his actions that he was an authentic believer and was affirmed by the testimony of others. “Anyone who does what is good is from God.” Goodness comes from God; evil comes from godlessness. Trees are known by their fruit.
John broke off here, promising to say more when he visited the church (vv. 13–14). He longed to be with these friends in person.
>> There are many leaders who fight for our attention, but we need to be careful who we follow. While Christ is always our perfect standard (1 John 2:6), we can also imitate those who imitate Christ (1 Cor. 4:16–17; 1 Thess.1:6; Heb. 13:7).
Thank You, Father, for the examples of believers who quietly, humbly exemplify the love and self-sacrifice modeled by Christ. Help us learn from their godly ways so we too may bring glory to Your name through our lives.