Thursday, February 2, 2023

            In Revelation 3, Jesus addressed a letter to the Church in Sardis.  His opening message was, “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1).  The Lord painted a contrast between how others saw the church and how He saw it. We find a tense and often contentious battle between reputation and character.  It is a battle that individuals have to confront and manage all the time.  Our reputation might be what others would say about us while character is what we know to be true.  The Lord also set up a contrast between outward vitality and inward decay.  If someone looked at you or me, they might draw one conclusion while you or I might think or believe something completely different.  Reputation and character are not always in alignment.  They can be in conflict.   
            Just as we take steps to ensure our physical well-being, we want to be certain that we are spiritually healthy and spiritually vibrant as well, and even more so.  The body does not last forever but the soul does.  Feed the soul.  Develop the inner life.  We can easily create the illusion of inner health and wellness when the reality is we are dying on the inside.  We can allow distance to grow between God and us.  We can allow space and gaps to develop where once there was a hand-in-hand walk with the Lord along life’s pathways. 
            You may remember Jesus’ conversation with an unnamed man we commonly call “the rich young man” (Matthew 19:16-22).  On the surface, this man seemed to have everything going for him.  He seemed to be living an admirable and model life for others to see and even emulate.  He asked a good question about how to receive eternal life.  He claims to have kept the commands and laws of God faithfully.  But Jesus could see far deeper than anyone else.  Jesus knew that the inside did not measure up to the outside.  The outward and visible side of this man’s life were not supported by the inner foundation and pillars.  So, the conversation changed.  Matthew recorded it in this way, “Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:20-22).  Jesus could see that this man was a slave to his wealth—captive to what he had gained and possessed.  The treasures we harbor in the heart are often betrayed by the exterior that we endeavor to show others.
            Jesus said that wherever our treasure is, there we will find our heart too (Matthew 6:21).  The treasures that we bury deep inside are a good indication of who we are and what we are.  If Jesus wrote you a letter like the letter He sent to the church in Sardis, would He name some dead places in your life?  Would some of what you find in the heart be unsupportive of what others may see or find on the outside?  Solomon issued a relevant warning long, long ago.  This king wrote, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).  Take care of the heart and fill it with what is good.  Build your character.  Protect your faith.  Have a great Thursday.  And remember you and others can always worship at  We will continue our look at Revelation in worship on Sunday.  Join us and bring someone with you! 

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