It sounds like an oxymoron - gaining wealth through poverty.
But in a study of the seven churches in Revelation, one comes away with the reality that Heavenly wealth and earthly gain is altogether different.
In your quest to live for Christ, especially in this day and age, do you find yourself getting complacent? Do you find yourself becoming satisfied with the status quo? Have you placed a big premium on ease and comfort?
Periodically, in order to bring myself back around to reality, after feeling of being self-satisfied, I look at the account in Revelation of the church at Laodicea.
I think Laodicea lapsed into a condition which I’m afraid is not uncommon to the church today. After a few years, a church often loses the fire — the fervor — the pioneering spirit she once had to go out and seek souls and to spread the gospel. When a church grows to a place where the bills are easily paid, the building is reasonably comfortable, and the schedule is light and pleasurable, it is easy to become at ease in Zion. And to feel we have little or no time for the sin-sick, the needy, and the lost. Or else, we want to be selective about whom we invite into the fold.
1. Laodicea church was lukewarm. What did Christ mean by lukewarm? She had just enough religion to be comfortable, but not enough to consider her on fire. Yet she apparently wasn’t dabbling into debauchery to the point that she considered herself “cold” and apostate. She was just simply self-satisfied. The verse implies that the lukewarm condition makes God sick. One loves coffee hot — and milk ice cold. But lukewarmness is unacceptable for either.
2. Laodicea church was wealthy. When a church becomes wealthy, she feels she needs nothing. When a church, or a family, or an individual has accumulated vast wealth, there is a great tendency to rely on that wealth. It is easy for that wealth to become a god. In fact, one doesn’t have to be wealthy in order to crave a life of ease and contentment.
3. The city of Laodicea was wealthy and perhaps even aristocratic. It was a world center for the banking industry; it had a great world-class textile mill, and it had the greatest medical center in the world - in fact, a miracle drug (an eye salve) had been developed which attracted people from far and wide. So one can readily see how that aristocracy of the city could infiltrate the church. People often join such a church to better their business and life standing.
Jesus essentially told the church, you have access to great monetary wealth, but you are poor: You have the greatest textile mills producing the finest white linen money can buy — but you are naked: You have, at your fingertips, the finest medical care on earth, and a miracle-working eye salve — but you are blind.
Then Christ challenged them, “try (spiritual) gold, which has been tried in the fire in order to make you rich (the riches of Heaven). Try clothing yourself in white raiment (the righteousness of Christ) that you will not be naked; And anoint your spiritual eyes with spiritual eye salve (the wisdom which is from above) that you might see, spiritually.”
Laodicea is in stark contrast to the church at Smyrna. Christ told her, “I know your works and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)” She was found faithful in His sight - and it wasn’t because of wealth, ease and comfort. The poverty is what made her wealthy in the sight of God.
While we should pray for today’s provision like Jesus taught His disciples to pray, we probably should also pray, “Lord, don’t let us have too much that it would blind us to our need of You.
Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.