Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
Verse 20 is very famous, depicted in paintings and quoted in songs and evangelistic materials. However, this verse is generally overlooked, because we don’t like the idea of rebuke and discipline! That Jesus said this to John certainly backs up Hebrews 12:4-11, which in turn quotes Proverbs 3:11-12. We want a permissive God who overlooks our “peccadilloes” and lets us do whatever we like. That’s certainly not the God of the Bible! He wants a Bride, holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27) We have a lot of trouble associating discipline with love, but the Bible and good parenting are certainly in agreement in that area. As the Hebrews passage points out, we taste human parenting, most of us from both sides, as children and then as parents, so we need to extrapolate that to understand that God is indeed the perfect Father. Many people feel that the message to the church in Laodicea is the most severe of the seven, but we must not overlook the fact that even this verse says “those whom I love.” The fact that we are imperfect and go astray doesn’t make God stop loving us. The fact that He corrects us, sometimes strongly, doesn’t mean He doesn’t love us. The thing is, the devil loves to accuse us, (that’s what his name means) so we need to learn to distinguish between his accusations and our Father’s corrections. The devil immediately goes from specific sins to blanket statements, saying we’re always wrong or we are simply no good. God, on the other hand, is specific about how we need to change. The biggest problem with the Laodiceans was that they were complacent, satisfied with the status quo to the point that they were nauseating to God. (verses 15-16) That’s why here He tells them to be earnest. The Japanese clicks a bit better than the English in this verse, because the term for “earnest” is literally, “hot heart.” That is the perfect correction for the lukewarmness that had been pointed out.
I have experienced this multiple times. When I was steeped in spiritual pride, God showed me a spiritual mirror so that I could see how dirty I had become. When I had lost the focus of my ministry, He sent someone to give me a strong word that I was treating the church like a hobby instead of my calling. When I was so busy demanding that He answer my questions that I couldn’t really hear Him, He told me to shut up. Right now seems a very confusing time, with many things going on at once, and I have no idea how it will all turn out. I need to receive this as discipline for my tendency to want to be in control, to have all the answers. I am forced to acknowledge that I can control nothing but myself, and I’m not very good at that. Before God, there is absolutely no room for pride of any sort. I need to be comfortable with that, resting, relaxing, and rejoicing in Him just as He has told me to do, recognizing the task at hand and doing it with my whole heart as unto Him. It’s the recognizing part that often gives me the most trouble, but He is growing and guiding me, and I need to be gratefully obedient.
Father, thank You for this Word, and for all that You are doing in me and in this church. I really have no wisdom in myself, so help me listen to You accurately and follow You completely, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!