Thursday in the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Revelation 3:14-19

Letters to the Churches: Laodicea

We arrive at the last church to which our Lord spoke—and it is the worst of the bunch.  Whereas the churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia are materially poor but spiritually rich, the church of Laodicea is materially rich but spiritually poor.  We must assume that they have garnered their wealth through compromise with the local authorities in idolatry, either by eating food offered to idols at the pagan temples or participating in the imperial cult—the polar opposite of Smyrna and Philadelphia who suffered for refusing to do these things.  And because they are materially wealthy, they think that a sign of spiritual favor—a huge mistake in Kingdom economics.

Laodicea represents a church plagued by a sin all too common throughout history and especially in America—complacency.  This generally happens during times of plenty and prosperity.  Such are rich, have prospered, and need nothing materially—all the ingredients that lead to such spiritual lethargy.  But Christ says that such are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”  And though we have no temples to Artemis today, there are still a thousand ways to compromise one’s witness.  It is this complacency that so sickens our Lord.  Hot water cleanses and heals while cold water refreshes; but, lukewarm water suits no purpose—just like complacency, lethargy, and satisfaction with one’s walk with the Lord—a matter with which one should always feel an amount of conviction and discontentment in this life.

And so what does the divine merchant recommend they purchase from him for their own benefit?  1) “Gold refined by fire”: This speaks to purity and the need to cease compromising with the worldly powers that they may be truly rich; 2) “White garments”: Trading their filth for the righteous deeds which saints commit (19:8), that the shame of their nakedness be covered; and, 3) Salve for their eyes that they may see and stand in horror of their true condition and rush to the throne of grace begging these remedies. 

Our Lord is the Great Physician who reproves and disciplines those he loves.  He introduced himself to the Laodiceans as the “faithful and true witness,” which is exactly what he wants them to become, what he wants every church to become.  There is no room for spiritual lethargy in the Christian’s life.  We must be ever growing drawing closer to him through worship, Scripture reading, prayer, and insight into how to navigate the choppy waters of this life without compromising our witness.  All of this requires discipline, effort, diligence, fervor—and most of all, God’s grace.

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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