Tuesday in the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Revelation 3:1-6

Letters to the Churches: Sardis

I mentioned a couple of days ago that one trick whereby Christians attempt to fool themselves (but never God) is rationalizing and justifying their sin.  In other words, they develop reasons why they have an excuse for breaking the commandment that others do not have.

Well, there is another trick whereby Christians try to fool themselves into being in God’s good graces, and that is by means of reputation.  If everyone says nice things about us, then we must be good people, and God must be pleased with us.  Whether we admit it or not, we put great stock in what others think of us, be they Christian or pagan, and measure our worth accordingly.  We are about to see that this is very dangerous.

To the church of Sardis, our Lord introduces himself as the one “who has the seven spirits of God” (i.e., the Holy Spirit) “and the seven stars,” who represent either divine or human messengers of the churches, whom he holds in his hand (1:4, 16, 20).  The image is one of discernment and authority to execute judgment.  Unlike the previous churches, our Lord’s letter to the church at Sardis is not as specific, except for two distinct problems: 1) They have a reputation for being alive; but, 2) are actually dead. 

And this is the curse of reputation—it blinds us to the truth about ourselves. We listen to others flatter us, and we enjoy listening to that flattery.  This does not mean that the people who say nice things to us are evil, but it does mean that we need faithful and loving brothers and sisters in Christ to tell us the truth about ourselves, and we need to be able to hear it with grace.  And we must never take as our standard the words of unbelievers, which is not to say that all unbelievers are liars, but to say that we need to hear from regenerated hearts whose words are seasoned with the Scriptures.

The church in Sardis still had a few who cared not for idle words but were faithful to the Lord, mortifying sin and walking by the Spirit.  They had not soiled their garments with worldly compromise so that those outside might say something good about them—how tolerant, inclusive, negotiable, conciliatory, cooperative, and agreeable they were.  Not that Christians must be confrontational; we must use wisdom.  But we must do so with fidelity to the Lord.  These are the ones whose names are in the Book of Life who will walk with the Lord in heaven in white garments.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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