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, verse 10.
Notice a few things about how the apostle John proposes to deal with sinners in his midst. If you remember, John was talking about facing Diotrephes, who had exhibited behaviors that were destructive to the church (the people, not some building) and contrary to the teachings of Jesus. In this verse, John talks about how he intends to deal with the situation that Diotrephes is creating.
First, he goes to it. “So when I come” is both a promise and a warning. He, John the apostle, close friend of the Lord Himself, promises to make a visit in person to set things straight. That takes courage, you know, to intercede in a situation known for conflict. More than courage, though, it takes determined love. Only love for other friends could motivate someone to want to help. John could go elsewhere but, instead, he goes to the source of the problem.
Then, he confronts it. John doesn’t go someplace to beat around the bush. He confronts the issue. He calls attention to the situation because the situation is intolerable to the body of Christ. The problem can’t be solved unless it is first discussed.
In doing this, he uses fact. John doesn’t rely on emotions. He doesn’t let feelings rule the moment; he doesn’t let hearsay or ‘he said she said’ enter into the conversation. No, John deals in facts. ‘This is what has happened.’ ‘Is this true?’ Facts.
Finally, he corrects. This is the most important part because in it John identifies the infraction and then offers correction. He re-directs the behavior and holds the person accountable. Diotrephes’ behavior crosses the line of acceptability and John promises to rebuke and correct. You don’t do this for someone you hate: you do it in Christian love.
If you think about it, John was only doing what he had learned from his friend, Jesus. Action, confrontation, facts and correction: those are all behaviors that Jesus demonstrated over and over in all four Gospels. Further, they’re things that He does in our lives as well. He meets me where I am. He uses the mind and reason to appeal through my conscience. He deals in truth, not lies, emotions, feelings, or wishes. Last, He always redirects behavior, offering a way of correction and different choices.
This is the way of dealing with sin. Yes, it’s uncomfortable and it means facing some things that could get ugly. Yet the way to avoid the ugly is to do what Jesus and John did by approaching each situation in love.
Lord, teach me to deal with the sin in my life in the way Your friend, John, did. Teach me to hold to Your high standard.