‘Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward’ (8). Don’t let things slip. Build on the work that has already been done. This will not be easy – ‘many deceivers have already gone out into the world’. Such people do nothing but harm. They are wreckers. They will destroy the work of God – and think nothing of it. They are ‘antichrist’. They are doing ‘wicked work’ (7,10). When God’s work and God’s glory are at stake, we dare not be too ‘easy-going’. The ‘anything goes’ attitude will undermine the work of God – if we’re not careful. ‘A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify…To serve the present age, my calling to fulfil…Arm me with jealous care, as in Thy sight to live; and O, Thy servant, Lord, prepare, a strict account to give’ (Revised Church Hymnary, 518).
Some people do a lot of good. Others do a great deal of harm. Diotrephes thought he was a big ‘star’. He ‘loves to be first’. He ‘likes to put himself first’. He wasn’t a star. He was a disaster! He took ‘nothing to do with’ God’s servants. He did ‘not acknowledge’ the authority’ of Christ’s apostle. He was ‘gossiping maliciously about’ God’s servants. He did not make people feel ‘welcome’. He drove people ‘out of the church’ (9-10). Demetrius was very different. He was ‘well spoken of by everyone – and even by the truth itself’. He wasn’t just popular. He was real, genuine, true. There was a ring of truth about him. These were no empty words of flattery. God’s ‘true’ servants said, ‘We also speak well of him’ (12). What kind of person are you?
The wrong kind of people had come among God’s people: ‘certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you…godless men…’ (4). Such people do not like to hear the words, ‘The Lord rebuke you’. They ‘speak abusively against’ those who speak the Word of the Lord to them (9-10). God’s Word warns us against such people: ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit’ (18-19). With people like this around – life gets like a ‘minefield’. You never know where the next “explosion’ is going to come from! How can we ‘stand tall’ and not be dragged down by this kind of thing? ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God’ – He ‘is able to keep you from falling’ (21,24).