“I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.”
Revelation 2:19 NLT
Wow! What an endorsement from the Master Himself. Jesus said that He had observed the lives of the Thyatiraeans and, in particular, He singled out their love, faith, service and patient endurance. He also noted that they weren’t satisfied in staying at a certain level. He said they were improving. I cannot think of a better accolade for Christians in any generation, let alone those in the hostile environment in which the Thyatiraeans lived. As the letter was read out to them I can imagine the smiles on their faces; an endorsement for their diligent approach to their lives in Christ.
Was there any significance in Jesus just selecting these four attributes? Why not their prowess in praying for the sick? Or their attendance records for Bible Studies? Or their diligence in missionary work, knocking on the doors of the people in the next town? No. Jesus selected four examples of a Godly character. Internal attitudes and examples of a deep relational experience with their loving Heavenly Father. That sweet spot where their Christian lives were nurtured and developed to become more like Jesus.
The four attributes selected by Jesus were particularly important and significant in the society and culture prevalent in First Century Greece. They would not just have involved the way the people in the church related to each other but would also have included how they related to those in the society around them. This would not have been easy for them but their counter-cultural witness would have made significant gains for God’s Kingdom, swelling their numbers as the devil’s frontiers were pushed back.
Society and culture today is different in many ways to the Ancient Greek ways of life. Gone are the extravagant temples erected in the honour of the pantheon of Greek gods. Gone is the devilish practices that pervaded the society in those days. Today, the same issues prevail but in a more subtle way. So we pilgrims must ask ourselves if Jesus would commend us too for our love, faith, service and patient endurance. And are these character attributes growing within us day by day? Sometimes it is good to undertake a personal spiritual check up just to make sure. And how about the churches of which we are a part? Can we tick the “constant improvement” box? Or is there a “could do better” note on our report cards? But whatever the personal or corporate outcome, we know that God is helping us. Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12-13, “…Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him”. If God is working within us we cannot fail. And in Ephesians 2:10 we read that we are His workmanship, created to be like Jesus. So as we remain close to God, being obedient to what He says, we cannot fail to win the accolade received by the Thyatiraean church.
Dear Lord Jesus. We are so grateful for Your encouragement. You are always there for us on our daily walk through life, helping us to grow more like You. Please help us to be open to the work of Your Spirit in our lives. Amen.