If there is one thing we have seen in our Daily Notes in Revelations 2 and 3, it is that these words of the Lord Jesus are penetrating, provocative and exposing. Personally I do not think any seasoned Christian can meditate on these letters and walk away unaffected. There is encouragement and love, yet there is also rebuke, correction and warning. Picture the pastor of the Church at Thyatira reading verse 19 and being so excited and encouraged only to follow on with verses 20-23 and having his heart beat with fear because of what those penetrating, omniscient eyes see and know! The Lord Jesus knows all about them …
1) The positive.
Rev 2:19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
There are at least five expressions of their deeds this pastor can be encouraged about, as can his congregation. (1) Their deeds firstly express love. Love is directed to God, the congregation and then to lost sinners. Love is the “golden rule” for relationships. Let’s explore love remembering that love is not Hollywood’s take, nor is it sensual. God sets the standard for love.
Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Not that we are able to match the love of God which is totally sacrificial, but that ought to be our goal. God’s love is other people focused. He so loved He gave His all. This love is unconditional. It’s giving. It’s targeted. It is to be modelled by His people. This is how love works
1 Jn 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Verse 10 explains John 3:16 perfectly with verse 11 saying that since God loved us in this way, we should love each other in the same way … sacrificially. When we love God and people this way, it becomes easy to live an obedient lifestyle.
1 Jn 5:3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
The big requirement from us is to
Mk 12:30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
(2) Their deeds secondly express faith. Once there is love for God it’s possible to have faith in God. The concept of “faith’ is often misunderstood. Maybe our understanding of the word is the problem. I could have faith in myself believing I can do something. A parent may have faith in their teenage daughter to behave in a certain way. Yet having faith in God takes on a different meaning. Faith is not just believing God exists, is Creator and Sustainer … it is believing what He says is real. His Word, the Bible is His message for mankind. In it, it tells us to believe everything He says about Himself and His plan for man. It’s accepting there is sin and holiness, heaven and hell … meaning there are consequences for the race. Faith is believing God sent His Son into this World for me and my salvation. Faith is trusting God as my new Master and Lord. Faith is surrendering my all to Him for life and eternity. In essence, faith is trusting and depending upon God for forgiveness of sin, provisions for life, holiness and claiming the promise of eternity with Him forever.
(3) Their deeds thirdly express service. Where faith is directed towards God, service is directed towards man. Although it sounds like a clique, it is totally true that Christians are saved to serve. It starts with pastors teaching the Body
Eph 4:12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
This means there is to be no pew sitters in the Church because all are to be equipped to serve. One of the huge problems in Churches is that the majority of people never offer themselves to serve and then two things happened … (a) The first is the people never use their spiritual gifting for the Body and the Body loses out. (b) The second is that those who refuse to serve never attain to the fullness they ought in Jesus Christ. They will lack joy and spiritual satisfaction because their spiritual gift mix lies dormant!
(4) Their deeds fourthly express perseverance. Christian life is not easy for two reasons.
(a) We as saved sinners often struggle with sin.
(b) As saved sinners we live in a world throwing many obstacles at us every day. These two, especially the latter requires we maintain a healthy Gospel perspective on what God requires of us. One of the greatest challenges a long distance runner faces is the camber of the road. Having good running shoes is not sufficient. What you need to do is find the most level part of the road to run on otherwise, due to the camber, one leg will be longer than the other causing extreme pain in the knees through ligaments chaffing. Over long distances such as a 50 or 100 kilometer race where there are many steep hills, mountains and much winding, you have to “persevere” in looking for and finding the flattest part of the road or trail to run on. This is what perseverance means for us as Christians. As the runner eyes the finish line, so does the Christian. To get there we need to find and avoid the spiritual obstacles preventing spiritual pain and frustration … persevering to the end.
(5) Their deeds fifthly express progressive growth. This is real Christianity in practice. Growing and developing in Jesus, in love and service must be ongoing. We never arrive on this earth. This pastor could be extremely happy with this aspect of his ministry because he and his flock had been pleasing the Lord. Are we as spiritual leaders and as the people of God happy because our Lord may look upon us and be pleased with our deeds?
Lord Jesus, help us to express our deeds as this Church did. May love, faith, service, perseverance and progressive spiritual growth be ours through Jesus our Lord and for Your pleasure. Amen.