This is another lengthy letter, as the Lord has much to say to these people.
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
This is another lengthy letter, as the Lord has much to say to these people.
The Lord introduces himself as the faithful and true witness and the beginning of the creation of God; reinforcing the fact that what he is stating about this church and its people is indeed the truth, and he knows what was and is the truth from the beginning of this entire creation.
If they wanted to argue in their defence that times have changed, and therefore the gospel needs to change to reflect that, they would find it difficult.
Again, the Lord looks at their ‘works’ and has nothing good to say. He goes on to state a problem that every Christian has had to deal with at some stage. That is, works being neither hot or cold. In this case, there was no correction, as there is in a true Christian’s life.
Eccl 9:10 states, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might;..).
Naturally, the hands follow the heart; therefore, if the work our hands are doing for the Lord is lukewarm, so it will be in our hearts. Whatever state your heart is in, your treasure will be in the same state.
This scripture means if we are half-heated in our works for him, it is because only half our heart is interested. The other half being interested in ourselves.
When the Lord speaks about ‘works’, he is referring exclusively to works done for him, as the focus of our hearts should be in our Lord.
He does not allude to why he was not pleased with their works, however, when we read the scripture carefully we can see the answer.
Part A of verse 17 holds the key. It says, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;”
Think about it? When are true believers in need of nothing? The closer we get to God the more pitiful we see ourselves. The viler we become to ourselves. The more we see the need for a Saviour. This result is what reflecting on scripture should achieve. Why wasn’t it achieved at Laodicea?
In a typical church, some followers will listen to the sermon, take notes, then go home and do more study, then apply it to themselves. Others sit in the pew, don’t bring a Bible to church, listen to the sermon, then forget it by tomorrow. Hence, the mirror of scripture is only valuable while they are looking into it.
As they walk away, they are like goldfish, which have short memories and forget, allowing them to swim around in the same bowl for years without getting bored.
Thus, those pew-sitters can swim around in their sermon fishbowl all their lives until they die, not realising they have heard these sermons and scriptures before, and never applied the principles. The Laodiceans were Christian goldfish, who were quite content to listen to a different sermon each week, but remain ignorant and unappreciative of the depth and power, and the personal requirement to change behaviour. They applied very little to themselves, deeming it unimportant.
James 1:23-24 states, “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.”
So, a believer of the Laodicean ilk is likened to a hearer; whereas, a true believer is a doer. But, a doer of what?
The works, in the case of this letter, were those which build up the inner man. The Laodiceans we not working on growing to the stature of the fullness of God in Christ Jesus, but were satisfied with how they were.
What type of Christians are pleased with their progress of growth? When we look at growing the nine fruit of the Spirit to full maturity ready for harvest, and developing our God-given callings, how could we be pleased? Yet, these people were!
The same applies to us today.
We can see that money was also a problem with some in that church. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;”
When Paul was writing to Timothy, he raised the issue of parishioners with money. 1 Tim 6:10 states, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
This is a gut wrenching passage, but do you think he meant it? Surely not? After all, money makes the world go around. Besides, it’s only Paul saying it, and not Jesus. We know Paul was a bit funny about certain things, don’t we? After all, he didn’t like women interpreting scripture and teaching men. How weird can you get?
I wonder if the Laodiceans were thinking this? Many today believe this — If it is only Paul and not Christ, it is not God speaking.
Separating Christ and Paul the Apostle into two categories of ‘truth’ is simply a form of higher criticism. Meaning, the Bible is not entirely truthful after all. It is not all God’s word. Some unbelieving ‘Scholars’ started this train of thought a few hundred years ago, and sadly some of it sticks.
However, there would be no greater pain than to find out after years of attending Church, like the Laodiceans, that you had missed the boat. Never would you have thought it!
Noah found, after one hundred years of preaching that many missed his boat, that many of his relations, friends, acquaintances, and community members drowned in that sea of unbelief and unpreparedness, scoffing at the thought of a great flood.
They were too comfortable in their lifestyles to listen to the preaching of righteousness.
All Noah was doing at that time was parroting Jesus, in saying, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all those other things of which you are in need will be added unto you.”
I think most western Christians know how easy it is to overestimate the benefits of money, despite its power to answer a lot of life’s issues. Many problems are solved and marriages salvaged with an inflow of money.
In fact, none of us understand how much of our ‘faith’ is in money because that faith is subliminal. It flies under our spiritual radar. Whether we have a lot of it or a little, our confidence in money is high. Believe it or not, but our desire for it is immense.
If our faith in and need for God were as great as our belief in and need for money, we would all be heroes of the Faith. Remove all money from your life for six months, and see how much faith you had in it. No income, no work for the dole, no relations or friends helping you out, and see if you can keep the house, the car, the super, food, and nowadays even water. We need money, but how much of that need is love?
If we prayed for results with the same expectation as we do when we work for money, the world would change around us; our spiritual life would be revolutionised, prayer would become our primary focus and achieve great change. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much. It happens when we are as intense, diligent and expectant in it to bring in answers as we are in work’s ability to bring in money.
When we have money, it is easy to estimate our wealth. However, it’s far harder to determine our spiritual value, and this is what the Lord is talking about to these Laodicean parishioners. Their reliance on money had grown greater than their dependence upon God. Much of western society today has the same problem. Church carparks are now full of brand new cars. Parishioners are extending mortgages to get one. Every time they find equity in their homes they prolong the mortgage to buy stuff which provides too much comfort.
Our Lord and Saviour, the firstborn, whom we are to follow and emulate, said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Jesus told us not to chase money but chase the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. He said to make God our God, and his kingdom our pursuit.
He implied, if we do not, we could even get to the stage of secretly hating or despising kingdom teaching because it rebukes the desire for money.
Money made the Laodiceans far too comfortable. They were as cats, preening themselves and thinking how wonderful they were when in reality had become the opposite.
The opposite is this: “and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:”
Although directed at the Laodiceans, these descriptive words seem more appropriate portraying someone we might see sleeping under a tree in a park.
Sometimes we can live in a dream world, not addressing deficiencies that are apparent to others but oblivious to ourselves.
These comments bring us again to the issue of backsliders sitting in the pews without correction, or those who had not committed themselves to Christ but still being considered church members.
Interestingly, the Lord touches on some significant areas of life in this sentence.
MISERABLE: We can take this two ways.
One: that they are wretchedly unhappy while trying to look spiritually satisfied. The undesirable attachment of misery will never leave us when we live as a hypocrite.
Two: because of who they were, they made others miserable.
Misery, whether within ourselves or we create it for others, is a very uncomfortable manner of life.
POOR: Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This meaning was not meant for the Laodiceans. They were bereft of the Holy Spirit. Like the man who buried his one talent — that one thing God asked him to do — they too did not grow as God requested and required, and likewise were left with nothing.
When God provides us with the earnest (deposit) of the Spirit, it is the precise amount for us to receive and use at that stage of our growth. In fact, so much so that we can be overflowing with love and desire to please God, yet, compared to a wiser, older Christian, we are doing it all on a deposit. How? Because we are spiritually small!
Because we are babes, we seem to have an abundance, even though it is only the earnest, the very minimum.
However, if we grow older in life but leave that spiritual deposit to sit there or go backwards, we are at odds with the spiritual nature. As we grow more mature as people, the Holy Spirit within must likewise grow more mature. That way each side of the scale is balanced. Otherwise, we would be very ‘poor’ Christians indeed. We would be deficient like a baby in an adult’s body. Thus were the Laodiceans.
When we come to understand the patience of God as he waits for our growth, we also begin to apprehend the joy of the Lord and remove some impatience and anxiety from our walk. We see more clearly our advancement and prosperity in life and can add ‘patience’ to our growth.
Jeremiah 5.21-22 states, “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: Fear ye not me? saith the Lord:…”
Riches, comfort and pride made the Laodiceans blind. Of course, they could physically see, but not spiritually. They could not recognise God within their own church. Despite the preacher rattling off scripture after scripture, they did not apply it, not seeing their own deficiencies.
Before the Revelatory letter was sent to them addressing God’s concerns, much preaching has been done to get them to hear, but they kept saying to themselves, “That can’t apply to me, I have everything.” They would listen, smile and nod, but were deaf to their own faults.
Next time you are reading the Word or hearing it preached, and it pricks your heart, consider it a letter from the Lord. This aspect shows us that God had written to the Laodiceans many times about their deficiencies, as he does to us.
Blindness is a state of heart. We either want to see, or we don’t. For instance, If some have not salvation, we who are not blind should see that and do what we can; or else riches, comfort or pride have indeed blinded us.
To close our eyes to others’ dilemmas is also blindness. Job gave us the benchmark for helping others when he said in Job 29:15-16, ” I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.”
This almost brings tears to the eyes, as we see Job, who lived before the written law, was exemplary in this aspect of it.
We see he didn’t turn his head to the more challenging neighbourly issues but, on behalf of others, explored deeply into each case to identify the core factors and provide what assistance he could. He would get to the truth. He hated the oppression of those who could not defend themselves, and, as we all know, life brings much of that. No wonder he was known and feared by the wicked in the Gate of Judgement.
We must praise God for people like Job. There are many individuals in life helping other’s, but Job was wealthy, educated in the law (of God), the CEO of a large business, and the last thing he needed was someone else’s problems.
However, he got just that. We note that he didn’t help in a light manner, just to get the neighbour off his back and make it look as if he had helped, but he took cases on as if they were his own. He stood in the breach for his neighbour.
He helped the helpless, who are ever crying out for a Job in life who has the wherewithal to assist. He paid out of his own pocket. He gave away his time, goods and money — whatever was needed to close the incident. Job was a knight in shining armour who stood for righteousness and justice and a model for us all.
Despite having Job’s testimony at hand, the Laodiceans made a point of not following in his type of footsteps. They helped themselves and remained willfully blind to others’ dilemmas. ‘Self’ became an artform in the Laodicean Church.
Having a commitment to others is a command in both the OT and NT, and it is disobedience to turn away our faces from people in their time of need.
Deut 15.11 says this, ” For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. ”
Furthermore, Phil 2:4 states, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
If we are not the ones who can provide the type of help needed at the time, we must, for the sake of the person, ensure we lead them to the right support for the issue, and not just say, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what I can do. Good luck with it, anyhow.”
Unless, of course, you enjoy it, nakedness is meant to be an insult. When Christ mentioned this point in his letter, he was referring to the heavenly attire that only the divine can see and humans can only experience.
The Lord has mentioned attire several times in the Bible.
Isaiah 61.10, states, ” I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
and Matt 22:11-14 states, “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
For many are called, but few are chosen.”
When the Lord referred to the Laodiceans as being naked, he was indeed referring to the calling to be clothed, and the disobedience of and disregard for their Father’s word to be ready.
As we have discussed in many of these letters, everyone is called to do something for the Lord, but few are chosen and fewer again found faithful. There is something about faithfulness that seems too hard for so many of us, but this is where the garments come in. It is also tied into the Letter’s later verses about authority.
An interesting reversal of nakedness and the Christian walk is found in the two stages of Adam and Eve.
Prior to sin, Gen 2:25 states, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
Whereas, after sin, it states, ” And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; ”
This is the opposite of Isaiah 61:10. From that very time of awakening, Adam and Eve ever-wanted to retrieve the previous life and get back to an innocent mind. They desired to be clothed ‘in their right mind’, but that was now lost forever to them.
As Christians, we seek never to be found naked before the Lord.
The unsaved and many Christians do not understand the nature of being clothed. They do not appreciate the fact that our lives are before God all day, and the only reason we are not destroyed is due to his love and mercy.
Matthew 7, in the Sermon on the Mount, instructs us about deception and hypocrisies. I think we are going to find many post-modern Christians naked on the day they were to be found clothed.
I believe they will be found in this lot, in Matt 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Here, we see the term, ‘profess’, which I think is interesting. As the Apostle Paul writes in numerous passages, we have a ‘profession’, which is to follow and preach Christ, educate ourselves in his Word, as well as pray for, heal and support others, live in peace, and grow in unity.
Further, Christ, is our Professor (firstborn-instructor). Yet, he has not seen one of them in his classroom. He has a book of attendees, and that one he will use on judgement day to sort the sheep from the goats.
I think where a problem lies is in identifying the doctrine of Christ, as this is an eternal argument of the anti-legalism followers who clearly missed the point of His message. Jesus, in his life on earth, was ever instructing us on the will of his Father (See John 5). He says that he and his father are one; yet some in ignorance are trying to separate the Old Testament from the new Testament, not understanding how they work together; and in doing so, separate the Son from the Father, which I feel this passage was about.
Ignorance is fine, if there is humility and desire to overcome it, but not wilful ignorance to support a doctrine known to be wrong.
As we have discussed in some of the other letters, they maintained their sinful lifestyles, believing ‘Grace’ would cover them. They had listened to some post-modern ‘grace’ preachers and followed their doctrine, only to find after their death, that it was not the doctrine of Christ.
God provides us with much Grace, but it will not stretch over a purposefully deceptive lifestyle of sin. He turns a blind eye to many things in life as we grow in Him, and we should be eternally grateful for his patience.
However, he will not be taken for a fool, simply because some people deliberately misread his doctrine in an attempt to maintain a lifestyle they know, deep down inside, is wrong.
Grace is a clothing or covering for those who have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ or who are earnestly searching for salvation, and nobody else.
One of humankind’s built in and most irresistible temptations is of a sexual nature. From time immemorial sexual desire has crippled many great men and women. It has destroyed families, friendships and even nations.
When Moses alighted from the Mount, what did he find his precious Israel doing? Indulging in wantonness, and worshipping not only a man-made golden beast which cannot see, hear or speak, but also idolising and partaking in the bottom rung of all perversions — sexual extravagance. Such is the rapid decline of those who cannot rule their own spirit.
The indulgences of nations in this activity whose reputation cannot be hidden by history are shameful, not glorious.
When Israel fell so many times, much of it was for anti-law sexual gratification and was therefore sold by God to other nations, until repentance.
On the other hand, Israel’s victories were exclusively due to its clothing of repentance and obedience to the Lord. A Christian’s victories are identical.
Uncovering nakedness is written about extensively in the Bible. The ten northern kingdoms of Israel were perpetually naked before the Lord.
So many rulers of Judah with their extra-kingly desires had made Judah naked before the Lord, as we see in this example in 2 Chron 28:19, “For the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord.”
This instance wasn’t a literal nakedness, but a spiritual one, in the sense that the garments that God places over an obedient nation were removed.
Likewise, the Laodicean church was found to be naked at the time the Lord visited.
Godly teachings and examples of obedience and repentance should emanate from the King’s castle, with an expectation of a national following.
When a nation begins to decline, increasing horrendous debt, tolerating and even legislating sexual perversions, condemning the righteous and raising the sinners to places of power, we can be assured that, similar to a swimming pool cover being wound off, God is removing the spiritual covering of that nation, condemning it to being fare game for any other nation seeking it.
Along with the spiritual covering comes God’s protective covering, and when one is removed, they both go. Often the sole reason a nation still exists is due to the prayers of the few righteous still within it.
Seeing money was so important to the Laodiceans, in verse 18 the Lord uses investment language to provide them with spiritual understanding.
He states, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
The Lord is not suggesting that they purchase Salvation, as Salvation is a gift and they already had that. He is saying that for them to keep their Salvation deposit and not lose it, they need to go into further spiritual investment.
Following the gift of salvation, anything deeper comes at a cost. Seeking the Kingdom of God and his righteousness will most likely cost you dearly, so it is best you factor that in and run. It will be worth it.
When God recommended they buy Gold ‘tried’ in the fire, he is suggesting three things we need to look at. One, is about knowledge; two, is about testing that knowledge; and the 3rd point one is about wisdom and understanding.
Knowledge: Gold is never found in topsoil, but deep within the earth. Likewise, so are the secrets of God found deep within the Bible, which he shares only with those who seek. So we are to go deep into our bibles and mine the Gold — the deeper biblical things the Holy Spirit will lead us to and explain the meanings.
Trying the knowledge: We then put it under scrutiny of cross scriptures to test the accuracy of what we have found. We ‘try’ it in the fire of many cross scriptures, as it may in fact be Fools Gold (where we go out on a tangent and look for scriptures to support our theories).
Wisdom and Understanding: Gold also stands for changes that go on within us as we grow spiritually. Specifically, it talks of Godly judgement that should exude from us when decisions are needed.
These judgments, like knowledge, are also tried on the anvil of scripture, where personal emotion is completely left out of the judgement.
This does not come by chance, but by design as we continually demote our pride in favour of humility, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to remove bias from our decisions.
How did Job sit in the Gate of Judgement? By knowing the word of God deep within his heart, and not favouring the poor or the rich.
As we grow older and wiser in God, more Godly decisions will come from us. It is simply the rewards of laying down our lives to seek and find truth.
The unfathomable love of God
V19 states, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent”
How beautiful is the Lord to still recognise them as his children whom he loves, and will go to the trouble of admonishing to bring them back in line with his expectations.
This verse brings hope to us all. Most parents have rebuked and chastened their children at some time, and those who don’t or haven’t will pay the price. As we are all aware of parenting difficulties in our desire to bring our children safely through life, it is understandable that God our Father will parent us the same way — according to his own scripture!
If we have found ourselves with pride or arrogance or perhaps we have ignored warnings, as the Laodiceans did, the Lord will still open his arms wide to accept us, through the route he provides. The key is our zeal for repentance.
To give us an idea of how to interpret the term, ‘zealous’ let’s look at Strong’s Concordance, Greek 2206, where we see a very real explanation, “to burn with zeal”.
When we repent, the Lord wants us ‘running’ from our old life or issue we have recognised; running like Lot and his family at the burning of Sodom, and not looking back. Running back to his Kingdom; running back to Him; running away in fear and disgust from our old life or newly found controversies, with no thought of returning.
Repentance, by its very nature, demands a full-hearted approach and will have its rewards which will exceed our imagination. If some things in our life are deeply embedded and become habits, they may need a 40 Day approach to engineer them out of our life. Take heart, if we apply consistency, they will go and not return.
Despite the Laodiceans lack of respect for God’s kingdom teaching, the Lord still told them he loved them and showed them the pathway for a full return to his Fatherhood.
How deaf are we to the Lord’s rebuke? How often do we read scripture, knowing it is for us but then ignore it? How often have we had people telling us of our faults, only to have us dismiss them, saying or thinking, “No, I don’t have that problem”. Maybe it’s the Lord speaking through them and we’ve roadblocked the message? Maybe we only accept rebuke or challenges on our terms?
If we are perpetually zealous for repentance, which should be our way of life, we will be looking into every comment or hint of our personal failing, whether brought to us by people or scripture, with a strong desire to change and grow in Christ!
Col 4:16, states, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”
Both Paul and Epaphras had a great passion for the Laodiceans. They knew of those things which could trip up these members, such as the riches around them. After all, Laodicea was a banking district, and in today’s language could have been called the Church at Wall St, such was the flow of money.
We all have different obstacles to overcome on our way to Glory. Otherwise, there would be no need for writing the seven letters in the first place.
Looking at that aspect, it is not only money that can give us an “in need of nothing” spirit. We can simply think we have ‘grown’ all on our own. We can think our ‘maturity’ is due to our commitment to God and diligence to those things in our calling. To some extent, it is true.
However, as discussed in other letters, when growing spiritually, we should be finding that we have not done life ‘My Way’, like Frank Sinatra, after all. Spiritual maturity by definition makes us more dependent on the Holy Spirit and with a greater reliance on and understanding of the ministries he has placed around us.
Our life should become more interdependent, not independent. The church is only prosperous through the unity and purity within. Without a commitment to purity there is nothing at all. Without unity, there is only you due to conflict!
As growing Christians, we can find that with the removal of all our props, such as the writings, the explanations, the conversations, the prayers, the work others have built that we now use, we would be much smaller indeed.
In kind, and with a humble spirit, our aim is to pass on those seeds of maturity and blessing to others as we work in this collective spiritual farm to bring to maturity the First Fruits required for the Lord.
This brings us to verse 20, one of the most oft-used scriptures of salvation.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
In this beautiful passage of passionate love for people’s salvation, Jesus informs us that he is knocking at a door, where the handle is on the inside to be opened by us. We are able, but is that what we want?
A great fear comes across some people when confronted with this scripture and its meaning.
I recall a story of an unsaved person who had attended church with the storyteller. When the preacher asked congregants to bow their heads, and for those who would like to give their hearts to God to raise their hand, he sat frozen.
It was evident to the storyteller that the friend was indeed wrestling with the thought. He wouldn’t bow his head nor raise his hand. The storyteller said he seemed like he wanted to raise his hand, but a fear gripped him as he sat in his pew wrestling internally with himself.
He began to perspire; such was the battle going on inside. In the end, he did not raise his hand.
Opening that door to allow the living Christ into our hearts seems natural to some, while others fight all the way to the Cross.
On paper, it seems like such an easy decision to make, doesn’t it? The Son of God Almighty coming into our life to grow us spiritually. To comfort us through hard times, to guide us into all truth, to give us the best wisdom and understanding about life, to provide us with a new unified family of spiritual brothers and sisters, to help us become a rock for others?
On paper, why would we wait? But, some of us do wait?
There is a fear of the unknown termed Xenophobia. It renders some of us immobile. But, this isn’t the issue here. Christ is known, and one only needs to read the gospels to appreciate his love, care and sacrifice.
No, this is an issue of pride. Instead of immediately taking the biggest step of our life, we instead ponder the obstacles, the loss of friends, the loss of face, the loss of ‘fun’ and determine there is a considerable loss and embarrassment attached to being a Christian. Perhaps one too big to overcome. So, in making the decision not to open that door, for it is indeed a decision, we find ourselves locking that door between Christ and us.
If we die in that state, we go to hell, simply because of some pride.
This was also an issue at Laodicea. Merely dipping our toe into the river of living water is as useless as infant baptism, yet, it is what was occurring at this church.
As the old saying goes, “when asked to drink from the fountain of living water, the only gargled.”
Pride is a horrendous impediment in many areas of life for both Christian and non-Christian. We can’t even adequately describe pride, but we know it has many shapes. However, we need to recognise the difference between pride and self-consciousness, thought they may appear to have similar outcomes.
Self-consciousness may start off as an embarrassment about certain things, even from a baby. We can explain it, but it doesn’t even seem rational when we hear it in our own ears.
Yet, it comes with fear, sometimes so intense, that it stops us from achieving many goals and desires in life. We recognise how much control others have over our lives when that high anxiety kicks in as we begin thinking what THEY might think of us.
Sometimes we can identify the cause — the reason it started in our lives. Such as a debilitating incident that left us disfigured or disabled, and we haven’t yet got over our self-perceptions, we haven’t yet adjusted to our new personage. Or our teacher in primary school forced us to sing in front of everyone, and we haven’t sung since. Maybe we were poor, and grew up with the shame often attached to it, where our opinion of ourselves is simply that everybody else is better than us.
Maybe we weren’t as smart at school as others, and the stigma remains, or maybe we are dyslexic.
Maybe we were not as pretty as our siblings, so we grew up with the pain of always being the one that got passed over at the dance, so our self-consciousness of that has moved into other areas of our life.
Or maybe we were fostered out as a child, and struggle with the rejection of our natural parents.
Regardless of its origin, it can keep us ordinary instead of extraordinary, and it needs to be intelligently addressed and removed.
Conversely, there is pride, and that also needs to go, with a greater urgency. We don’t need to be rich and handsome to have pride. It can grow within regardless. Look at Isaiah 28:1, where we see we can be destitute but still have pride.
“Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!”
This is a very similar scripture to the overall letter at Laodicea. The elders of the land — those who should be at the forefront of keeping God’s high standards, are simply not. In this instance, they are often drinking heavily at public functions, and drunkenness is frowned upon by God. Yet, they wore their drunken gospel and freedom like a crown. They were bewitched, and proud of it.
So, there is a pride that can enter us despite our station in life. We can be high and mighty and proud, or we can be a very low person and proud, even despised by most and yet still have pride.
We can be poor and proud, rich and proud, famous and proud, unknown and proud, and even proud of our humility or think we don’t have any pride, which in itself implies you may have.
Whatever motivation increases our pride, it is an important to realise that at the very end of life we stand before the living God to be judged, and pride is not a characteristic on which we should want to be measured harshly. As James 4:6 states, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
The Holy Spirit, like water, takes the path of least resistance, and when he comes across pride in a heart, it is much like a dam, not letting him in.