Just as Jesus was discussing how greatness is only achieved in His kingdom by being the least important, John, one of the inner circle of three disciples, interrupted to say that a man who was casting out demons was not following Jesus as they were.
John wanted the Master to forbid this man; however, Jesus commanded, “Stop stopping him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”
It appears as though the Twelve saw themselves as the exclusive leaders of God’s people. They wanted all the control, so they were jealous of the success of another outside their group. They wanted to micromanage the followers of Christ.
They should have rejoiced that the power of God was being manifested on earth by other disciples. This was not a rival or an enemy but a collaborator helping complete the task. The laborers were few, so they should have appreciated every one of them (Luke 10:2).
This concept was expressed in the negative as well: “The one who is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23 and Matt 12:30). Here the emphasis is on deciding to follow Jesus to avoid remaining in opposition to Him by indecision.
Whatever his motivation, the person who exorcised a demon in Jesus’s name would never turn around and oppose Jesus. At least he had performed an act of mercy for a possessed person and stood against Satan.
A similar situation developed with Moses and the seventy elders (Num 11:25). Joshua wanted Moses to punish the two elders who did not come to the tabernacle by forbidding them from serving. Moses answered Joshua, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (11:29).
Paul expressed a godly attitude to the Philippians: “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will . . . What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice” (Phil 1:15–-18). Can you always rejoice in the successful ministries of others when the gospel is proclaimed?
“Dear loving Lord, when we have a tendency to want to control or micromanage other people who serve You, help us stop and trust You to guide us all to accomplish Your purposes.”