the weblog of Alan Knox

Imitate Good…

Posted by on Mar 7, 2007 in discipleship | 8 comments

I’ve posted a few things recently from 3 John. I’ve enjoyed studying this short letter. Here is another passage that helps us understand what it means to make disciples and what it means to be a disciple. Consider what John says in verse 11:

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:11 ESV)

Just before this, John had warned his readers that Diotrephes did not accept what John wrote, did not help the brothers and sisters who travelled through his area (see “Sending with hospitality…“), and “likes to put himself first”. John indicates that he plans to confront Diotrephes face to face about this (see “We will talk face-to-face…“).

In 3 John 1:12 and following, John encourages his readers to follow Demetrius instead. How do the readers know that they should follow Demetrius? Because Demetrius “has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself”. John adds his own recommendation as well.

Notice what John is saying here. There is one man who loves to be first – he loves being a leader. But, John says that his conduct is contrary to the ways of God. So, John does not want his readers to follow him. Instead, he points them to a man who is obediently following God. Everyone who knows him recognizes this. This is the “good” that John expects his readers to follow.

Do you want to know who to follow as a disciple? Then ask yourself these questions: Who has a good testimony? Who’s conduct matches their theology? Who lives what they teach and speak? Follow those people.

But, think about these questions: Who loves to be first, noticed, recognized, important? Who is more concerned with their position than with their conduct? Who is more concerned with whether or not other people are obeying him than whether or not he is obeying God? Do not follow those people.

John began this short letter by telling his readers, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4 ESV) Could it be that part of “walking in the truth” is knowing how to imitate good and those who are following God, and how to avoid imitating evil and those who are not following God?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-7-2007

    Good post on 3 John. I have become much more aware of the act of hospitatlity since I have come to live here in a muslim country. It is interesting to note that in Hebrews 6, the somewhat controversial section on ‘falling away’, the author contends that they surely will not fall away as they have served the brethren- in context it seems to mean that they were hospitable to the brothers traveling through.

    Can we really choose mentors who walk their talk, are humble, and are gracious servants? Let us pray to the King that He raises up such men and women. According to 3 John it seems that we will know them by the honor they give to fellow followers of Jesus and not by showing themselves superior by putting others down.
    I had better stop now- I think I am getting convicted.

  2. 3-7-2007

    Alan, Good, helpful post. A good check for us all. To be spoken well of by the truth and by God’s people. That we would learn, together, to seek to follow our Lord, closely. Thanks!

  3. 3-7-2007

    A good word, Alan — thanks for posting it!


  4. 3-7-2007


    I have not looked at the “serving the brothers” passage in detail. What you said is very interesting, so I’ll look at it. You have some good words about knowing who to follow. Thank you for adding them here.


    You said: “That we would learn, together, to seek to follow our Lord, closely.” Great prayer!


    Thank you for the encouragement and the comment.


  5. 3-7-2007

    would it be acceptable to apply those same questions to myself to say whether i am walking wiht God? Could they be used in self examination?

  6. 3-7-2007


    Yes, I think we can apply this to ourselves. It humbles me to think about seeking preeminence for myself.


  7. 3-7-2007

    Great collection of posts on an often overlooked letter. Now, how do we know what is good? How to know we aren’t following goats? Is it only the issue of seeing someone who wants to be noticed??

  8. 3-7-2007


    There are other reasons (besides preeminence) not to follow someone. That happens to be one of the reasons that John gives for Gaius not to follow Diotrephes in this letter. What are other reasons? There are many… maybe I’ll post something about this soon. Or, maybe you could post about it?