Will wealth profit you nothing?
Our church has been studying the book of Revelation over the past couple of months. We have been spending time looking at the early part of the book where Christ addresses several churches that were contemporary with the writing of Revelations. There are seven churches mentioned and each is commended or criticized or both according to how well they were following Christ in truth. Many of you know that there are divergent views on how to interpret and apply the letters to the churches. I believe that the problems faced by the first century congregations and the solutions to those problems are issues that are alive and well in our own churches two thousand years later. A believer must be always vigilant to hold up his own congregation in comparison to the early church, and when found wanting, to address the problem.
From a financial perspective, I was most challenged by the final letter, addressed to the church located in Laodicea:
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
‘Because you say, ” I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:14-22
Laodicea was a wealthy city, and the church at Laodicea was a wealthy church. Believers here did not face the same levels of persecution and poverty that were faced by some of the other churches. Money allowed them to live comfortable lives seemingly without worry. Conventional wisdom may have indicated that the Laodicean church was the most “successful” of the seven churches.
But God has a different method for evaluating success. In God’s eyes, the church was “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”. They were blessed, however their physically comfortable lives made it difficult to depend 100% on Providence for their needs, to the point that they’re relationship with God was useless and without meaning. Church had become a social club and Christ compares their value to that of lukewarm water: useless.
Here at Gather Little by Little we talk about money because there is value in using our finances prudently. We all desire to build wealth little by little, but if that wealth causes us to become overconfident in ourselves, if we forget that every penny comes from God, then that wealth is useless to us. It is better to be homeless and lying in a gutter, but in possession of a meaningful relationship with God than to be independently wealthy and miss the point of life.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? – Matthew 16:24-26
Article by Stew
Photo by Jeff Belmonte