The Laodiceans Had Material Wealth Only
They were urged to buy not ordinary gold, but refined gold, referring to that which would glorify God and make them truly rich. Through its banking industry the city had material wealth. But the church lacked spiritual richness. Though they had beautiful clothes, they were urged to wear white clothes (cf. v. 4), symbolic of righteousness which would cover their spiritual nakedness. As wool was a major product of the area, Laodicea was especially famous for a black garment made out of black wool. What they needed instead was pure white clothing
Then Christ exhorted them to put salve … on their eyes. A medical school was located in Laodicea at the temple of Asclepius, which offered a special salve to heal common eye troubles of the Middle East. What they needed was not this medicine but spiritual sight. The church at Laodicea is typical of a modern church quite unconscious of its spiritual needs and content with beautiful buildings and all the material things money can buy. This is a searching and penetrating message. To all such the exhortation is be earnest, and repent. Christ rebuked them because He loved them, which love would also bring chastisement on this church
Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 940). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
I like watching real estate shows on TV, especially British ones. I was watching a show the other day about a European couple with an adult daughter who wanted a specific view. They desired to hear and see the ocean off California, wanted long stretches of beach in their immediate proximity. They were moving to CA to indulge their daughter, who was attempting to become a Hollywood actress.
The host showed them a 4.5 million dollar home, which they took in stride, a 5.5 million dollar home, the cost of which they never batted an eye, and a 9.4 million dollar home, to which they mildly remarked, “That’s quite a price.”
They bought the 9.4M home.
I got to thinking about what it might be like to have that amount of money. To be able to indulge large desires and to have no worries about high prices.
I didn’t let my thinking go too far with that, lest it would raise covetousness or greed in me. I really am content with what I have, and the Lord provides for me very well. But still…
My mind turned to wondering if they were saved. I think about that a lot these days, and increasingly so. An American celebrity dies and I muse, ‘Well, they know the truth now…’ Alan Bean, Margot Kidder, Stephen Hawking… dead, dead, dead.
They had much, also. Fame, renown, professionalism in their craft, money. But what good did it do if they lost their souls? Sir Anthony Hopkins, the actor known for the movie Silence of the Lambs and many other productions, was interviewed by The Guardian this week. He spoke about his upcoming role of King Lear, and how it would be for him to play it now that he can see life spanning backwards from the vantage point of being 80 years old. He said,
You know, I meet young people, and they want to act and they want to be famous, and I tell them, when you get to the top of the tree, there’s nothing up there. Most of this is nonsense, most of this is a lie. Accept life as it is. Just be grateful to be alive.
Easy for Hopkins to say, he got to the top of the tree. Someone on Twitter said, ‘It’s almost as if the Bible is true or something’ having noted that King Solomon said much the same in his book of Ecclesiastes. Would they be so equanimous if they knew the truth about their approaching death? That their life goes on, and unless they had been declared righteous by God having repented and come through the Door of Christ, they will be eternally gnashing their teeth in pain and torment, in hell?
As for money or riches or things (like houses) Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 speaks of the vanity of toil. The top of the tree is empty for Hopkins, and the house with a view will eventually UNsatisfy the European family, because the point of working for Jesus is eternal joy in pleasing the eternal savior, a legacy that extends to heaven, and expansion of the kingdom, and pure joy in serving for His sake. Everything else is striving after wind.
When life inevitably ends, all those who are outside of Jesus will find that a life philosophy of of toil…or riches…or fame… was wildly off the mark. Being in Jesus, I know where ‘the top’ of the tree is, and that makes all the difference.
The Laodiceans had everything, fame, wealth, trade, but Jesus called them poor, blind, and naked.
Lord, help me be satisfied and content with what You have given me, and help me deal well as a wise steward of it. Let me not be covetous nor discontent. You truly are a God Who Sees and a God Who Hears, you have given all the portions as you deem according to Your plan. Ultimately I have received the best portion, I have it all: YOU.