Some people in the Bible show up only once, but lessons from their lives have lasted forever. As a positive example, that would be wonderful. But to go down in history as an arrogant leader who was “praying against” John and the other leaders “with malicious words” would not be a good thing.
Diotrephes had apparently become a leader in the church, but he liked his position a bit too much. He loved ” to have the preeminence,” and he felt threatened by anyone else. So he refused to give hospitality to traveling preachers and forbade anyone else in the church from doing so.
Perhaps worst of all was his malicious gossip. Diotrephes spoke evil about the other church leaders and traveling preachers, but his words were no more than nonsense. Many in the church were either too untrained in Scriptures to see his evil or too afraid of him to speak up. In any case, his words were causing deep division and great difficulty and he had to be stopped.
Gossip is idle talk or the spread of rumors about the private affairs of others. Seldom is gossip helpful and uplifting; rather, it usually centers around less than positive information or rumors. Even if what is being spread is true, the person passing the information along usually has less than positive motives. The Bible says that a whisperer separates the best of friends, reveals secrets, and causes strife.
Gossip has a way of hurting and dividing people. Rumors spread like wildfire, leaving destruction in their wake. The next time a spark of gossip flies our way, we should snuff it out completely. We dare not make the mistake of setting a great fire by passing along a little spark. The only sparks we should pass along are the sparks of Christ’s love. That warm and welcoming fire should burn continually.