A BITTER PILL TO SWALLOW
Lord, keep me on the hot part of the stove.
Read REVELATION 3:14–22
To the Church in Laodicea
14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Were the whole realm of nature mine, / that were an offering far too small; / love so amazing, so divine, / demands my soul, my life, my all” (Isaac Watts, 1674–1745).
The church members at Smyrna thought they were poor when actually they were rich. The church members at Laodicea, a prosperous manufacturing city, thought they had it all—but were in fact poor. Sadly, what they do have will not endure the test of fire. A question we need to ask of our own deeds and church programs is whether they are of human convention or of the Spirit: human gold or spiritual gold? How hard it must have been back then for those who loved Jesus to hear his discipline and words. How differently Christ evaluates things. How could they be poor when they enjoy luxury, naked when they make such fine clothes, blind when they manufacture such famous eye ointments? (For more detail, see John Stott, What Christ Thinks of the Church and J. Ramsey Michaels, Revelation.)
Christ comes not to destroy, but to build, for he loves his church. We too are surrounded by resources outside and inside the church—but are we using them for the glory of God? These church members are rich, but what they need is humility and a desire to obey God’s words, allowing his Spirit to prosper in and through them.
Laodicea is an area of great wealth and resources, but its water supply is infamous. Having no access to the cold mountain supply or the hot springs in Hierapolis, it must pipe its water through an underground viaduct, making it lukewarm and horrid on arrival—a picture of the witness of this church. God wants to give them his gold for their poverty, his royal robes for their nakedness and his salve for their eyes, so they can see, and see clearly. God’s love for this prodigal church is clear: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock” (20). He does the same with us. Nothing is beyond his healing spiritual touch.
Are we rich or poor? How do we measure that? If Christ were to write a letter to us or our church, what would it say?
Lord, I am open to Your brutally honest evaluation of my walk with You, and I live each day with that in mind.