You will recall I mentioned that the pastor and congregation at the Church in Laodicea were “self-deceived”. As we progress I would like to share a true story. Without mentioning the names concerned, I knew a person who was a reasonably good cook. His specialty was to make “Bisto Steak” as he called it. The dish tasted really good … so good that the cook himself would say … “That tasted good, even though I say so myself.” Do you know what he was doing? He was congratulating himself on a good meal. Look at
Rev 3:17 You say
this phrase used as it is in the passage means self-congratulations. So here it is … they were so self-deceived living in the grey zone (lukewarm) that they were able to congratulate themselves for their condition. They had this high view of their condition yet they did not understand their depravity. My friends, so many people live and exist within this grey zone, enjoying every minute of it. You have heard the saying … “they start to believe their lies”! In a similar way the pastor and congregation believed the lie … “self-deception” equals “congratulations”.
4) Look at how they deceived themselves.
(1) They saw themselves as self-made and self-sustaining.
Rev 3:17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’
Firstly you notice their self-congratulations … “I have” and “do not need”. They felt they had arrived, never needing anyone’s help because they believed they could self-sustain. Yes they had money and possessions. They would never lack materials to survive on this earth. What they missed in their calculating is that one’s health is not guaranteed irrespective of the wealth amassed. Neither does wealth assure spiritual health before the God of the Bible. We live in the age of materialism. Anyone can have whatever they want as long as they can afford it. This is so true with many wealthy people. Instead of living in the world for the glory of God they live in their wealth for the glory of self. A Christian needs to be extremely cautious that money and possessions do not turn into greed. Remember Jesus telling this parable
Lk 12:16 “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
This is the world we live in our time … “take life easy; eat, drink and be merry” … which exposes personal idolatry, self-deception and self-congratulation. What is the great flaw here? No faith, no trust, no God and no investment in God and His Kingdom. This is the one that carelessly ignores their soul in preference to the here and now. Real wealth is not measured in bank accounts, investments, real estate, possessions, gold and jewelry! It is measured in your relationship with God. That is true wealth … in the parable Jesus says
Lk 12:20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you.
(2) Self-deception and self-congratulations are oblivious to reality in the economy of God.
Rev 3:17 But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Jesus exposes their self-deception and self-congratulations when He says … “but you do not realize”. This is the problem, not just with them but with many today. Once one’s head [mind, thoughts, beliefs] is in the clouds … meaning they are so blinded to reality and only absorbed in their present luxury … they cannot understand their true condition in the presence of eternity!
(a) They did not realize they were wretched. This terms means distressed or miserable. I knew a man in the mid 1980’s who enjoyed such personal wealth, that life was a holiday on the South Coast (KZN), Muizenberg and Camps Bay (Western Cape). He, his wife, son and daughter drove the latest sports cars (Merc), gold chains around the neck, golden brown skin from lazing on the beach. Coupled to his wealth he inherited millions from his mother-in-law as did his wife. He was unhappy, could not sleep and pretty miserable. That is what wretched means … have so much yet so miserable it distresses you. That is their personal picture. May it not be you.
(b) They did not realize they were pitiful. They were pathetic. To have it all yet to have nothing is pathetic! That is their personal picture. May it not be you.
(c) They did not realize they were poor. The banking world overflowed with capital. They were the mega banks of the day. Jesus says to them that they do not realize that with all their money they were poor. True wealth is spiritual. Jesus said
Mat 6:32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
The priority of the true Child of God is to seek God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness … salvation and demonstrating the Gospel … not the accumulation of wealth. As Jesus looks, what picture does He see of you?
(d) They did not realize they were blind. With all their doctors and medicine, they remained blind because they refused the only medication for spiritual blindness. When Jesus looked over the crowds we read
Mat 9:36 he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Spiritually blind people are spiritually harassed people and spiritually harassed people are spiritually helpless people meaning there is absolutely nothing you can do about your situation.
(e) They did not realize they were naked. They boasted the best garment factories producing designer clothing yet all the fancy clothing yet did not cover them from God’s x-ray vision. They were fully exposed! What does your picture look like as Jesus looks at you?
Lord, help me to be true. Amen.