1“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars:
“I know your works; you have a name of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is on the point of death, for I have not found your works perfect in the sight of my God. 3 Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 Yet you have still a few persons in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life; I will confess your name before my Father and before his angels. 6 Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
Sometimes, the messages in the Bible seem less than perfectly relevant to us. But when we read the Bible with a mind to see how it applies in our personal lives, I’ve experienced that things are often much more applicable than expected!
To: Members of the Church of Sardis
From: Creator of the Universe, Reigner Over All, and Holder Of All Things Together, Whom you Purport and Profess to Worship and Love
I know each of you by name, and I know everything you care about, everything you think and do — I pay that much attention to you because I have put my lot in with you. You have gained quite a reputation for yourselves! People respect you for your piety, and they see the way you serve, the way you tithe and give, and the fervor with which you attend church and small groups and prayer sessions. People regard you as excellent examples of good people, worthy Christians. But I know that beneath all of this, there is so much emptiness within you, so much that you’re embarrassed to show to the world, so much that you have tried to keep hidden from others. Your good works and your piety are meaningless both to you and to me if they don’t come from the sincerity of a new heart and a new life dedicated to my kingdom! If you keep working and maintaining this veneer of reputability and righteousness, but don’t address the deeper issues in each of your lives that are slowly eating away at you, killing you from the inside, you will find yourself empty on the day that I come — and you won’t expect it.
Remember what you were taught and what you read in my Word; remember the way in which we were once friends and truly part of each other’s lives! Remember these things, examine yourselves, and resuscitate the little bit of yourself within you that is still eager to be changed, to be renewed.
Turn away from the hypocrisy that I know is so tempting for you to fall back on. Because I know that in the face of so much that you are struggling with within you, it is easier to just do — to do as you always have done, and act in a way that will not arouse suspicion, to cause people to think that you have it all together. But there are some within your community who have remained steadfast, and I know that they serve and work out of a genuine heart of love and obedience. I know that they have truly accepted the white robes and the new life that I offer, and they strive to live in a way that is worthy of this new life I have given to them — both outwardly and inwardly. Learn from them, imitate them, and strive after righteousness within yourselves! If you do, I will be faithful and present to you the new robes that I prepared for you, that I have been waiting to give to you. Your name will be known in heaven, and I will support you and give you all the help you need. You can look forward to true life, and be confident about life — because I am the true source of the fulfillment that you have been striving after through other things.
Come back to me, stop covering up and hiding behind your outward appearance of righteousness, and take hold of the truth that I offer! If you know that I am referring to you, I am. Listen.