Reflecting on John’s 3rd letter I concluded an appropriate title for the book would be, Against Self-Love. It’s true, there is a healthy love of self, for Jesus Christ said to love your neighbor as yourself in Matthew 22:39. An excessive love of self, however, is destructive to the Christian life and the Christian Church. Everyone knows this, yet many are ensnared in its web.
The late V.R. Edman wrote in one of his books, “Tradition tells us that David kept a shepherd’s staff beside his throne to remind him of his humble beginnings as a shepherd, from which he’d been exalted to become king over his people.”
Diotrephes, referred to in 3rd John 9-10, was not like David. He loved to have the preeminence in his church. He didn’t want anyone to show hospitality to any visitors without his permission. He gossiped maliciously about John, and anyone who didn’t toe the line, he excommunicated from the church. Note John’s strong condemnation of self-love and his challenge to become like Demetrius who had a good report from everyone.
In his closing comments he makes it clear he is looking forward to visiting them, speaking face to face. Then he makes this statement: “Greet the friends there by name.” Knowing someone’s name and greeting them by name lets them know they’re important to you. It takes effort, but it’s recognized as an expression of love.
It feels good when someone addresses you by name, right?