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Guarding Against the Danger of Self-Promotion

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 3 John 9

In 1996, a former ESPN sports analyst wrote his autobiography, “Just Give Me The Damn Ball.” Only 24 years old at the time of publication, Keyshawn had no purpose for his memoir other than a desire to use it as a weapon—a battering ram that he levied to restructure his workplace towards his own preferences. Keyshawn sought to garner the attention of his peers and promote himself as the best receiver in his team very early in his career.

People who skillfully and unapologetically promote themselves to the world because of their gifts, talents, and accomplishments are often lauded for their self-confidence and rewarded for their self-promotion. In a society that often celebrates self-aggrandizement and personal glory, it's crucial for us to remember the virtues of humility and selflessness that lie at the heart of our faith.

The chain of events that led to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-13) set into motion a sinful cycle of self-promotion, self-protection, and self-justification. Whereas human beings are naturally predisposed to put themselves first, believers should be careful to guard themselves against the danger of self-promotion.

The desire for self-promotion is a temptation that has plagued humanity since the beginning. It whispers to our ego, urging us to put ourselves above others, to seek recognition and praise at any cost. Self-promotion can distort our self-perception. We may start to measure our worth by the approval and admiration of others, forgetting that our true worth comes from being children of God.

Moreover, constantly promoting oneself can strain relationships. It fosters envy and jealousy in others, leading to division rather than unity. When our primary focus is self-promotion, we may prioritize accomplishments that boost our image rather than those that serve a higher purpose or help others.

In today’s text, John the Revelator warns believers against Diotrephes, who “loves to be first.” Diotrephes’ self-promoting attitude was divisive and sinful. Thus, John admonished believers in that ministry contest to cultivate a spirit of hospitality and remain true to the teachings they received about Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, John wanted these believers to learn from Jesus and show greatness in serving others. He reminded them their true identity is found in God's love for us, not in the approval of others. Recognizing this can free us from the need for constant self-promotion.

Philippians 2:3-4 urges us to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility, consider others better than yourselves." When we put others first, we reflect Christ's love. That does not mean we should demean our personal accomplishments or think less of ourselves. But we must pray for the courage to guard against the danger of promoting ourselves so as to strain our relationships with others in the body of Christ.

let us remember that the path of humility is the path to true greatness in the eyes of God. Guard against the allure of self-promotion and embrace the virtue of humility in your daily life. May we always strive to be like Christ, who humbled Himself for the sake of others, and in doing so, showed us the way to eternal greatness.

Questions for Personal Reflection

What self-promoting attitude do you need to face up to?

Why is self-promotion a pathway to sinful disobedience?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we come before you with humble hearts, recognizing the dangers of self-promotion in our lives. Help us, Lord, to seek greatness in service, to put others before ourselves, and to find our worth in You alone. May we be guided by the example of Jesus, who humbled Himself for our sake. In His name, we pray. Amen.

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