I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. -3 John 1:9
Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. -3 John 1:10
Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. -3 John 1:11
There are several things here:
1. There are those in the church who think they know best and everything should be done their way. They go about stirring up people to see it their way and try to impose their will on the people.
Some work until they have achieved a church split, while others only manage to gain a small following and they eventually take their football and their small following and leave. Either way, they make sure they harass the pastor as much as possible.
It seems Diotrephes was like those described above, however, he was able to achieve some status and was very influential among the congregation.
2. Remembering the deeds of church trouble makers as well as telling others so they may be warned, as John did in this letter, is not malicious gossip nor is it unforgiving.
It is important to remember their deeds, so as to not be taken in by them or others like them.
It is also important that when you see them at work you warn others of what they are doing. This means that you should not report hear-say, as that could be gossip. But if you have first hand experience with them trying to lead you astray or observe them doing it to someone else, then warning others is not gossip, it is saving another from going down the wrong path.
Matthew 18, dealing with disagreements and offences should also be employed. Sometimes confronting these people is hard as they will not listen. But it needs to be done.
3. We are not to follow those who do evil in the church. We are to follow those who do good in the church.
4. The last line is a real stickler.
He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. -3 John 1:11
What does this say about those who persist in splitting the church or gaining a following for their agenda? It says that person has not seen God. Tough words. But we must be careful what we do with these words.
Not everyone who follows these trouble makers is a non-Christian. They have just been led astray by them. Also, not every trouble maker is a wolf in sheep's clothing...some of them just have serious misunderstandings and need correction. The ones who refuse correction are the ones we have to have serious doubts about.
If they are in disagreement over doctrinal issues that are not essential to salvation, they just need to either decide to agree to disagree but be silent about it if it is not the position the church holds to or they need to go find a church they agree with.
If their disagreement stems from procedure and how things are done in the church, it's fine to bring these things up to the leadership and if it's not agreeable with the church leadership then they need to let it go and not stir the pot.
Those that get on their high horse and stir the pot until they either drive the pastor out, split the church or take a faction with them are not obeying Scripture and their faith is suspect, especially when they display obvious bitterness in their words and actions.
I need to guard myself against such things.