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The Danger of Being Lukewarm

The Danger of Being Lukewarm

By: Alistair Begg - November 22, 2023

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked … Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. – Revelation 3:15-17, Revelation 3:20

Laodicea was a financial center, and it had all the confidence and opulence that goes with wealth. It also was famous for its sheep and their soft, black wool, which was woven into expensive garments. Not only that but the city was known for its medical school, which had developed a salve that was useful for treating certain forms of eye conditions.

It was in this environment that the Laodicean church lived: in a financially prosperous city, skillful in its business practices and known for its medical facility. God had placed His people in the heart of that to reflect His light in the diversity of Laodicean life. But the church had been absorbed by the culture. They had lost their cutting edge and were compromised and self-deceived. Instead of reflecting their Savior, they reflected their society.

It is unsurprising, then, that when the Son of Man looked at the church in Laodicea, He found little to His liking. They were stagnant. Wealth had bred in them a sense of self-sufficiency. They wore nice clothes but were oblivious to their spiritual nakedness. While their city’s physicians could help restore physical sight, the members of its church were spiritually blind.

Yet was Christ about to abandon them? Not yet. His assessment was not good, the prognosis was poor, and the warning was real. But He didn’t send them away. Instead, He invited them to dinner: “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” The word used here for “eat” is deipnēsō, which refers not to a meal eaten on the fly but to a full dining experience, where you sit for a long time as an expression of companionship, enjoyment, friendship, and fellowship.

Do you ever congratulate yourself on your prosperity? Do you think about your material possessions more than your Lord’s appraisal of your life? Be careful! A lukewarm faith that goes through the motions while embracing materialism and holding Christ at arm’s length is, in fact, no faith at all. But be encouraged, too: the Lord is knocking, and He is inviting you into a deeper fellowship with Him, a closeness that will fire your heart once more so that you will sing again:

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

Trans. Mary Elizabeth Byrne, “Be Thou My Vision” (1905).
About the Author(s)
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Alistair Begg

Alistair Begg has been in pastoral ministry since 1975. Following graduation from The London School of Theology, he served eight years in Scotland at both Charlotte Chapel in Edinburgh and Hamilton Baptist Church. In 1983, he became the senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio. He has written several books and is heard daily and weekly on the radio program, Truth For Life. His Daily Devotionals are presented here via a syndication agreement.
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