Devotional text: 3rd Letter of John: 1-15
Text: 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. (v. 11)
While cooling down from a recent run, a preschool aged boy pointed a stick at me an said in a stern adult-like voice, “Don’t you do that, young man!” I simply smiled and waved. Earlier in the day, at the preschool in the church I serve, I overheard a little girl telling her friends a story. With her left hand on a hip thrust to the left and pointing her finger, she said, “Well, let me tell you …” I smiled and wondered who she was imitating.
The apostle Paul once said that we should imitate him in as much as he imitates Jesus. (I Corinthians 11:1) Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and it is how we learn to be who we are, for better or for worse.
I am intrigued by John’s last phrase in today’s text: whoever does evil has not seen God. In his first letter John wrote that God is love and whoever lives (abides–takes up dwelling) in love, lives in God and God lives in him. (I John 4:16). Have “evil-doers” simply not experienced God-like unconditional love? Has the evil of the world so broken them that they find it difficult to trust, let alone love? Are there not enough Jesus followers sharing the love that God first gave to us?
I have to think about that. Maybe I’d better do a better job at loving. Then, maybe, I’d be a better glimpse of grace. How about you?
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is despair, let me bring hope. Where there is darkness, let me bring light. Where there is sadness, let me bring joy. Let me be worthy of imitation so that you may be glorified. (This prayer is a modification and abbreviation of a prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.)