“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.”
This passage found in Revelation 2 seems to describe the successful church, or for that matter, a successful individual who is living for Christ. I mean, look at all the things that are being done right. This church looks to be just the group to “hitch your wagon” to if you want to grow spiritually.
But, wait. There is more in the passage.
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent.” Verses 4 & 5
Wait a minute!
Jesus is saying here that the church mentioned did all of these “good things” yet did them out of a motivation other than love for Christ?
How did they do it? What prompted them to do these things, if not love for God?
Selfishness is the direct opposite of the biblical definition of love. Yet, selfishness can also masquerade as love. In other words, acts of selfishness can often look like they are being done out of the motivation of love.
For instance, a parent regularly runs interference for their child – protecting them, so that the child can have a happy life. Or, a parent is hard on their child so that the child will be successful. These things sound alright, don’t they?
Well, they can be alright depending upon the motivation behind them. If the parent runs interference for the child out of a feeling of fear, then they are actually doing what they are doing out of selfishness.
When the parent is motivated to step in so that the child will never exprience pain, it is most likely that the parent is actually doing this to keep themselves from feeling the pain and guilt that they would experience from seeing their child hurt. Of course, no one wants their children to experience pain, but some pain is unavoidable and some is actually condusive to growth in a healthy way. If you think, “I just don’t think I can stand seeing them go through this!”, then you are actually thinking about how this will make you feel rather than how this will be beneficial or detrimental to the child.
There is nothing wrong with disciplined training to help a child learn to achieve. But, if you are doing it because you are afraid of how you will look if your child is not successful, then you are thinking of yourself rather than the child.
These may be imperfect examples but they give a picture of what, in some form, was happening in the church spoken of in the Scripture. If the church is doing the right thing for a selfish reason, then before God, it is still wrong.
We are not going to be judged by what we “hoped” we would do or what we “intended” to do, we will be judged by what we did and why we did it! Doing “good” things is not what God is looking for: He is looking for someone who will reveal His heart to the world! Selfishness is not His heart!
So, when you are looking for a spiritual family, you might want to check motivations as well as actions! Be sure you do that in your own life as well. Much will be done in the Name of Jesus today that has nothing to do with Him.
Stop before you do anything else. Check your heart. Your motivation shouldn’t be for “right living” but for “living right”! In the eyes of the Lord, that only happens through loving God more than anything else.
I want my life and the Capstone lampstand (church) to endure as pure before God. If we love Him more than anything else, we cannot and will not fail!