I deceive myself all too often when it comes to my walk with the Lord. And I don’t think I’m alone in that. You see, I read Jesus’ letter to the Laodicean church and I think it doesn’t really describe me:
‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realising that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.’ Revelation 3:15-17
After all, as a Christian I know that I am not self-sufficient. I know that I am unable to do anything about my status before God other than come to him in repentance and faith. I know that I need to trust wholly in Jesus’ death and resurrection for forgiveness and life. And I know that I am unable to walk in the good works without his help by the Spirit.
And yet the Laodicean church probably knew all that as well. Perhaps they talked a lot about depending on God’s grace in church, in small groups and at home. But it wasn’t enough to stop Jesus calling them lukewarm and threatening to vomit them out of his mouth. Why? Because though they may have affirmed the fact that they were needy, deep down they thought they were rich and needed nothing.
The ugly truth is that I am often the same – and I dare say that you are too. You see, if I truly did believe I was wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked by nature, and that I needed God’s help for everything, surely it would show itself in my prayers? I would be on my knees each day in sincere repentance, in thanksgiving, in petition, and in humility. I would be praying daily for God to help me to be a more patient father, a kinder husband, a better friend and a more faithful witness. I would be praying daily for gospel opportunities with my neighbours and with parents at the school gate. In short, everything that I do would be grounded in regular, heart-felt prayer. And yet, it so often isn’t.
Using the excuse of having a busy life with lots of commitments, I so easily drift into depending on my own ability, my own skill, my own wisdom and my own strength. I end up thinking that I can do it by myself. That I need nothing. I become much like those in the Laodicean church that Jesus condemned. That should be sobering.
Please do pray for us: that we would be humbly depending on God in all things. We are aware how easy it would be to drift, and how dangerous that would be for ourselves, and those to whom we are trying to reach.
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Joe and Rachel Clarke work with the Grupo Bíblico Universitário (GBU) – the Portuguese student Christian movement. They seek to evangelise and disciple university students and equip them for future Christian ministry.
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