Imitate to Inherit
Paul told the Ephesians to “be imitators of God” , the Philippians to have the same “attitude  which was also in Christ Jesus” , and the Corinthians to “[b]e imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” .
The writer of Hebrews commended a reason for such imitation: “ … show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” .
But not everyone should be imitated. John warned, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God” . How do we distinguish, however, between “what is good” and “what is evil”?
What Is Good: Gaius
Gaius is an example of “what is good” because he walked “in the truth” , “act[ed] faithfully” , and loved the church, “especially when they [were] strangers” . He evidenced his love for these brethren-strangers by showing them hospitality. At the time, since hotels were nonexistent, it was traditional for hosts to accompany their guests on their first day’s journey. Thus, John exhorted Gaius to practice this tradition “in a manner worthy of God”  and gave three reasons for doing so: (a) because they were working “for the sake of the Name” , (b) because only Christians would support their work of advancing the gospel , and (c) because supporting their work enabled them to be partners .
What Is Evil: Diotrephes
Diotrephes, however, constitutes a foil to Gaius. He “love[d] to be first” and “[did] not accept” the message of the apostles  – even “unjustly accusing [John and his coworkers] with wicked words” . Unlike Gaius, Diotrephes did “not receive the brethren” – even forbidding others from doing so under threat of ex-communication .
Standard of Measurement: Jesus
Unlike Diotrephes, Gaius is an example of “what is good” because he imitates the love and hospitality of our Lord. Jesus does not love us because we are attractive, successful, popular or insiders. Rather, He loves us “while we [are] yet sinners” . He shows hospitality by welcoming “the least of these” and exhorts us to do likewise .
What kind of example are you imitating? And what kind of example are you becoming?
 Ephesians 5:1 NASB |  Philippians 2:5 NASB |  1 Corinthians 11:1 NASB |  Hebrews 6:11-12 NASB, see also Hebrews 11:1ff |  3 John 11 NASB |  3 John 4 NASB |  3 John 5 NASB |  3 John 6 NASB |  2 John 6 NASB |  3 John 7 NASB |  Id. |  3 John 8 NASB |  3 John 9 NASB |  3 John 10 NASB |  3 John 10 NASB |  Romans 5:8 NASB |  Matthew 25:31-46 NASB