Have you ever written a love letter? Maybe it was to that cute boy or girl in third grade. And you had to entrust the delivery of that precious note to a friend – because it would have been absolutely impossible and totally embarrassing to deliver it yourself!
If a love letter is lacking substance, then it is simply sweet talk or insincere flattery; a glossy distortion of what real love might say. Real love speaks gracious truth from the heart, gracious truth that desires the highest good for the other person.
Today in God’s Word we see a letter of real love from the Lord Jesus to one of His churches. Though our focus today is on one letter, please take time now to read Revelation 2-3, which contains all seven letters.
14“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of God’s creation. 15“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me. 21The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” – Jesus (Revelation 3:14-22 ESV)
This letter was written to the church in Laodicea, which was a commercial center with thriving medical and textile industries. In this successful city, the church had become complacent (see v. 15-16) and self-sufficient (“I have prospered, and I need nothing”). In fact, they did not even realize their actual spiritual condition (“wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked”). Sometimes, in our complacency, we can be “coasting” spiritually. And when we are in neutral we become less teachable, less aware of our need for God.
In love, after He describes their true condition, Jesus gives them His gracious counsel so they can be genuinely rich, clothed in purity, and healed of their spiritual blindness. Of course, the Laodiceans had no resources to “buy” anything from Jesus. They could obtain these necessities only by His grace (see Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-9).
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline…”
Here is the centerpiece and heart of this letter. It is indeed a love letter! Jesus’ authentic love for His people desires their highest good, so He doesn’t hold back from speaking plainly and truthfully about their need. Like a loving father, He will reprove those whom He loves.
“…so be zealous and repent.”
Can you hear Jesus’ urging? It’s as if he’s saying, “Turn around! Change course! Be earnest about it! Don’t keep stumbling around in your blindness and nakedness and spiritual poverty – I desire so much more for our relationship!”
“If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.”
Jesus is speaking to His people, His church. He is knocking and calling out to us, that we would repent and humbly receive His forgiveness, healing, and grace. Those who open the door to Him will welcome Him, not as a guest, but as Master of the house. And the picture of His coming in and eating together is a loving picture of close personal fellowship.
APPLY THE WORD
Is there any spiritual complacency or “lukewarmness” in my life that I need to confess? Am I deceived in my thinking about my true spiritual condition? In what ways might the American church, or even our church, resemble this church in Revelation?
Ask the Lord to show you the true condition of your life. Trust His love for you as you bare your soul to Him. He knows all about it anyway, and He loves you too much to leave you in a place of spiritual poverty. Thank Him for His loving reproof and discipline. Confess and repent of anything that He brings to mind. Invite Him in as Master of the house – as the loving Lord of your life.