SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Jesus tells the church in a city called Sardis to repent (or turn) from their trying to keep up appearances and maintain a reputation for being good, and to wake up and obey what they heard from Jesus.
- Jesus encourages his people in Philadelphia (not that Philadelphia -- this Philadelphia was located in the region of modern-day Turkey) to keep enduring patiently through whatever trial they are experiencing.
- Jesus tells the church in Laodicea to repent of their complacency.
- In verse 19, Jesus says that it's because of love that he rebukes and disciplines.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Notice that the status-obsessed people in Sardis, along with the wealthy people in Laodicea, were moving in the wrong direction spiritually and were told to repent (while those enduring hardship in Philadelphia were encouraged). The two churches that Jesus warned had been distracted from following him, one by reputation and the other by wealth, the same can be true in our lives. If we obsess about our image and the way others see us, we may be tempted to do good things for the wrong reasons. If we have enough money, we might be tempted to think we don’t need God.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- In what ways do you get distracted from following Jesus? What can you do to keep yourself from being distracted from Jesus?
- Based on the seven letters to the seven churches (in this and the previous chapter), what do you think Jesus would say to you if he were to write you a letter today?