Scripture 3 John 11
11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
- Addressed to “beloved” or “dear friend” – written to people with whom the author has a close relationship
- Parallel – imitate and whoever does. One is advice, the other a description/contrast
- What does it meant to imitate good? King James has “follow.” Strong’s says comes from word from which we get English “mimic” Greek might suggest “do not have the habit of imitating” (Robertson’s Word Picture)
- Similarly to do good? Or its opposite, evil?
- Good actions come from those from God – evil does not
- The wider section suggests the author has two particular people in mind representing evil and good
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery the old saying goes. As I think about imitation this morning, some imitation is intentional – we imitate those whom we admire, like whom we would like to be. Or those whom we think others like, admire, follow. But much imitation is unconscious and comes from long exposure to a person or environment.
I say things that my mother and father said when I was a child, that friends with whom I spent much time said or did. It is part of being human – this reflection in our mannerisms and speech those with whom we are most familiar and with whom we have spent the most time.
This verse leads to the suggestion – rather obvious but worth remembering – that I will imitate what I am most around and admire. The second sentence suggests this to me – those who are with God, who spend time with God will imitate divine goodness. Those who do not will do evil.
It is a little unsettling to think about where and with whom or what I spend the most time – and how that shapes who I am and what I do. To be like Christ means to be with Christ, to spend time with Christ, to imitate habitually, to follow (as in the example and character) Christ. May I be an imitation of Christ today by being with him and following him more than any other.
Lord of Good, may I be good as you are good and because I have been with you, have been in the presence of your goodness. I am a reflection of those I have known and those with whom I spend time. May the best of my time be with and the clearest imitation be of you. Amen.