Testing Ourselves

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
Revelation‬ ‭2:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

John continues with a message from Jesus, “the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven gold lampstands”. Perhaps we could ask the question why John didn’t just say “Jesus”. But there’s something significant about the authority behind the message when the One giving it is described in the way John did. To me, it’s almost as though John is saying that although he once knew Jesus in a friendly, human way, as they walked and talked together in Israel, he now knew Him as the Son of God, with all the authority that that entailed, and He was central to this part of his vision.

The message from Jesus was addressed to the church in Ephesus. We remember our recent pilgrimage through the Book of Ephesians (and my latest book, “The Ephesian Pilgrimage”). Paul’s Epistle to his Ephesian friends was a treasure trove of loving instructions, designed to keep them free from error, that was so prevalent in his day. But over the years, it looks as though some issues have arisen, and Jesus cared so much about this group of His followers that He had a direct message for them. It is a human trait that we lapse into a state of comfort. To live in accordance with God’s will and wishes requires energy and commitment. The Ephesian church got some things right and missed the mark on others. 

So, as pilgrims, what is there in life that we have done well, and what is there with the dreaded report-card remarks, “could try harder” or “could have done better”? Come to that, who is filling in our report cards anyway? A dangerous prayer to pray is the one David prayed and recorded, in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life“. And then 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith”. If we let Him, God will sign our report cards, and of course in a gentle and loving way.

Dear God, we echo David’s prayer today, asking You to search our hearts and help us maintain our lives in accordance with Your will and purposes. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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