I recently wrote about the hypocrisy of Laodicea. Of course, I was focusing in on one single point. I think it is necessary to do that from time to time, but we do have to be careful not to lose the overall picture. There certainly were some very good comments, some dealing with other points and some dealing with the larger picture. Certainly, some pointed out that “riches” could be viewed as spiritual riches as well as material, and I don’t disagree. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in order for physical riches to blind you, you first have to allow spiritual blindness to affect you.
We shouldn’t forget, though, that Laodicea is not just blind. It is also poor, naked and wretched. All of these are pointed at their spiritual condition. Entire chapters could be written about each of these points, so I apologize in advance if some things seem to be skimmed over.
What is at the heart of the problem?
“I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”. What do we see in these words?
- I am self-sufficient.
- I am being blessed by God.
- I am righteous and have nothing to be ashamed of.
These are essentially expressions of self-righteousness and pride.
As I have often pointed out, “Laodicea” means judgment of the people. “Judgmental” is a very apt term for some of what we see in COG circles, unfortunately. People judge and condemn others in an accusatory manner. However, there’s another aspect of that in which I have not covered in as much detail. They also judge themselves, but not with a Godly judgment. Instead they judge themselves to be righteous!
What is really sad about it is that Jesus is standing outside knocking! Their own sense of righteousness has actually pushed the Savior outside of the Church!
If this is starting to sound a lot like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, you are catching on. They too were self-righteous, and Jesus criticized their hypocrisy openly. Yet, like the Laodiceans, they also could not and would not see and acknowledge their own faults.
And, of course, there are two sides to every coin.
The Flip Side
The odd thing is that Jesus did criticize the Pharisees. Criticism is not always from a sinful nature. Why then would some act as though any criticism is unwarranted and rebellious? Why pretend that “love” equals lack of criticism? In fact, if “love” meant lack of criticism, then why did Jesus have such harsh words for Laodicea?
How do you tell the difference? Well, in many cases a person’s spirit will eventually reveal itself. However, that might take months, years or even decades. So, how do you tell the difference in the meantime?
Answer: In many cases, you don’t.
In fact, should you really care?
Your enemies might be your best friends in the long run.
23He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. (Proverbs 28:23, King James Version)
Here’s the question, then: Have you already judged yourself as righteous, above reproach, increased with spiritual riches, in need of nothing, or are you humble and willing to listen to rebuke and correction?
Very Good! I was the one that brought up love in my comment. Lest you assume that I was talking about love that avoided any rebuking, I will say that I stated it as Godly love. Godly love is a love that does rebuke, points out sin, and loves each of us enough to do what it takes to help us make it to the end of the race.
However, Godly love is also kind in the way that does this. It is doing so out of what is best for my brother and not what is best for me. United is crumbling because it has become a house divided. There is no concern for what the actions of some are doing to others. It is more a free for all, and may the one with most votes, power, or "Godly" words, win.
In fact it is Godly love that gets left out of the whole mess. It is that love that is at the base of everything we believe. If we love our brother as our self, we would be willing to sit down and heal the wounds. Even if healing the wounds meant humbling our self. Godly love does rebuke, but it does so in mercy and love.
Have you ever watched a parent that lovingly spanks a child. They do so to bring about good fruits. it is very different than a parent that beats a child because they have no self control. Where is the love in that action?
Yes, to love is to correct. To love is to correct in a Godly manner. Jonah knew this. He knew that God would forgive if the city repented. God warned through Jonah, they repented, he forgave. But where was Jonah's love?
As long as we walk around ready to brutalize one another over what is happening, we are not better than Jonah.
Wow. Nicely put. Humility and esteeming others better than one's self is a Biblical mark of being close to God – regardless of which xCG or evangelical group one is in.
"God, I thank you that I am not like other men" is a phrase that has all too often convicted me of self-righteousness and pride – the most repugnant of all sins.