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     I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. 3 John 9-10

     Dear Jesus, being chronicled, by name, in the Scriptures as someone who loved to be first, is a sobering proposition. Though I grieve Diotrephes' destructive impact in the church, I don't stand in judgment of him. Please convict me and free me from the ways I, too, love to be first.

     In my marriage--when I'm more concerned about my needs than my spouse's heart; when I hear but don't really listen; when I pout more than I pursue; when I'm more aware of what disappoints me than what delights my spouse.  

     In my friendships--when I respond to their calls, but don't really pursue my friends; when I talk about my stuff more than I stay current with their stories; when I love to be remembered more than I'm faithful to pray for my friends.

     In my vocation--when colleagues sense I'm more preoccupied with my schedule and success than committed to love and serve as a member of a team; when staying busy takes precedent over giving presence; when I want things to be done more than I want people to feel loved.  

     In the general population--when I navigate through life with little eye contact and don't work hard to remember names; when my driving clearly says, "Get out of the way. Me first"; when I push my shopping-cart in the grocery store like a madman on a mission, grabbing items and speeding-up to get to the shortest check-out line first; when I get impatient with waiters and store clerks.  

     Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. You didn't consider your equality with God something to be held onto selfishly. You didn't love to be first. Rather, you emptied yourself of your glory by taking the nature of a servant. You served us by your life and by your death on the cross. Now you live to serve us, as advocate, intercessor and Bridegroom.

     I am convicted and humbled afresh, by your lavish and selfless love. Restore my first love for you, that my love for being first will decrease, and die a thousand deaths. So very Amen, I pray, in your matchless and merciful name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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