In Revelation 3, Jesus rebuked a wealthy Church. They were spiritually blind because of the way that their viewed and leaned on their wealth. Their perception of truth was dramatically different than Jesus’ perception, which is terrifying. How could an entire Church think they were doing great and Jesus think the exact opposite? This is an example of spiritual blindness and it should cause us to ask God to search us to see if we are in direct opposition to His perspective. How would we know if we were spiritually blind unless the One with perfect site showed us?
So then because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Warm water was known to make people nauseous and vomit. The towns around Laodicea were known for their hot water springs and their cold water springs but Laodicea was only able to access warm water because of their distance from the sources. Cold water was good for the body and the hot water had healing properties for the body but the lukewarm water was unsettling for the stomach.
Jesus is not saying that He is disconnected, giving up on them or ending His relationship with them. He is stating His concern and pain over their spiritual lives and the impact it has on their relationship with Him and their destiny in the next age. Jesus is still a bridegroom to this Church. As a bridegroom He mourns the lack in the relationship and zealously and intentionally pursues us to awaken our hearts again. What was causing them to be lukewarm?
Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing.” Jesus was quoting the statements of the Church in this passage. They said of themselves that they were rich financially and blessed by God. The city of Laodicea was very prosperous because of the wool and medicines they produced and because us that they had a strong banking system. The Church took this wealth to be a blessing and affirmation from God on their lives, which is why they said they needed nothing. They were the opposite of poor in spirit, which is understanding their constant need for God. This attitude of the heart caused the Church to be spiritually blind, prideful and spiritually complacent. They had need of nothing, meaning they were not hungry for more of God. We must be poor in spirit, knowing we need God for all things at all times and have nothing in ourselves. The Laodiceans were operating in the exact opposite spirit of what the Lord wants for us. He wants us constantly aware of what He provided for us on the cross and constantly aware of our need for Him in daily intimacy, transformation and power for discipleship.
Financial wealth and abundance of possessions make it more difficult to enter into the things of the Lord. They make it more difficult for us to posture our hearts in a place of needing God for all things and they make can cause our hearts to connect strongly to the pleasures and safety of this age instead of the riches the Lord wants to give us in the next age. Having enough provision for our lives is not bad at all and having financial wealth is not bad but we must be aware of the biblical warnings so that we can posture our hearts aggressively and fight to lean on God day by day. God is calling us to steward money wisely and to invest our money into eternal things. We want God to give believers and ministries millions of dollars in miraculous ways but we must posture our hearts now so that we can have the heart to give that money to the work of the Gospel when the money comes. Our call is not to fear money and avoid it but to posture our hearts aggressively and to give radically for God’s work.
Money makes it a little easier to not lean on God day by day in many issues and it can cause us to believe that God is blessing all of our choices. Financial blessing is not necessarily from God and financial lack is not a sign of God’s disapproval. Jesus affirmed the 1st commandment heart of another Church in Revelation 2-3, while also affirming that they were poor in the natural (but rich spiritually and eternally). God blesses the just and the unjust and God gives us seasons of lack and seasons of abundance (Matt 5:45, Phil 4:12).
Read the verses below for some of the New Testament thoughts on money and search out the same topic in the Old Testament. (Matthew 13:22, Mark 4:19, 10:23-24, 14:11, Luke 6:24, 8:14, 12:15-34, 16:11-14, 16:19-25, 18:18-25, 19:2-9, 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19, 2 Timothy 3:2, James 1:10-11, 5:1-2, Revelation 18:3, 18:15).
“But they who will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which plunge men into destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all evils, of which some having lusted after, they were seduced from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10)
“Charge the rich in this world that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, He offering to us richly all things to enjoy, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to share, to be generous, laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 17-19)
“But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, truly I say to you that a rich man will with great difficulty enter into the kingdom of Heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:22-24)
“No servant can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. And being money-lovers, all the Pharisees also heard all these things. And they derided Him.” (Luke 16:13-14)
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…” (2 Timothy 3:1-2)