3 John is a power-packed letter, full of wisdom for the church. One of the things John does in the epistle is express concern over the presence of a prideful person in the church. This one, Diotrephes, is characterized by hubris–he “likes to put himself first.” 3 John 9-10 says:
9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
In this passage, John reveals four characteristics of pride:
- Pride rejects authority: Prideful people reject authority because they put value their perspective and stature more than those in authority over them. Diotrephes would not even acknowledge John’s authority. Without humility, it is impossible to submit to right authority. You can see how this plays out in your life through how you are willing to submit to the authorities God has placed in your life: in the church, in the home, in the office, and in the government.
- Pride rejects wholesome speech: Prideful people reject wholesome speech because they use the tongue as a weapon. Diotrephes spoke “wicked nonsense” against John and others out of his pride. Prideful people are so self-focused that they use their words to cut others down in order to build themselves up. So, what do your words reveal about your character?
- Pride rejects hospitality: Prideful people reject hospitality because they are more concerned with their own comfort than the comfort of others. Diotrephes refused to “welcome the brothers.” Prideful people see others as potential intruders who may invade their personal kingdom rather than people to whom they can serve for the sake of the messianic kingdom. What gets in the way of you showing hospitality to others?
- Pride rejects unity: Prideful people reject unity because corporate unity often comes at the cost of personal preference. Diotrephes didn’t just refuse to welcome the brothers himself. He also stopped others who wanted to. Prideful people are so consumed with their own interests that they don’t look out for the interests of the community. In what ways are you putting your own interests before the interests of others?
I write about pride knowing full well the challenges I face in putting it to death in my own life. I’m no expert in humility (is anyone from the lone star state an expert in humility?). But I hope that you will be challenged by this passage to examine how these characteristics of pride might manifest themselves in your life.