You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Rev. 3:17)
The life of complacent Christians is characteristic of the life of lukewarm believers—always content with the spiritual height they have attained or maintained. Gradually, their love for the truth diminishes and they grow content with the knowledge they’ve already obtained. The result is that they end up not having a hunger and thirst for the word of God. Because of their self-satisfaction, when it comes to issues concerning acting upon God’s commands, they procrastinate—always pushing repentance, consecration and the things of God aside.
It is true that the Laodicean Church did “not need a thing” because they were physically wealthy (Rev. 3:17), but they needed God, the Giver of riches. Unfortunately, like the rich young man who came to Jesus, their physical wealth could not draw them closer to God. This was because they trusted in their wealth instead of God’s riches. Like the rich young man, they could not afford to lose their physical wealth:
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matt. 19:21-22)
The young man could not afford to give away his entire wealth so cheaply, thus his wealth prevented him from following Christ. Jesus is not saying that it is evil to be rich. He is saying that our devotion to Him must not be shared by anything or anyone:
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matt. 6:24)
The Laodicean Church was complacent with respect to their spiritual state, but God told them, “You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev. 3:17) A wrong evaluation of self is more dangerous than having knowledge of one’s own ignorance, and this is what makes complacency as dangerous as backsliding.
Often complacent Christians do not realise or fail to accept their condition (v. 17). It is not surprising that God had to draw the attention of the Laodicean Church to their state; they did not know they had become complacent and this was dangerous to their walk with Him. God exposed their ignorance of the state in which they were: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked (v. 17).
The Laodicean Church was physically wealthy, but they were ignorant of their poor spiritual state. Their pride had clouded their judgement of themselves. Instead of placing their hope in the physical wealth that would not last, God admonishes them in Revelations 3:18 to come for purification (buy of me gold tried in the fire), forgiveness and restoration (buy of me white raiment), and spiritual enlightenment (anoint your eyes with eye-salve).
This is what has happened to many Christians who before had been devoted and committed to Christ. They have become complacent and turned from God’s path, because they have allowed marriage, childbearing, relationship, education, career and other provisions of God, rather than God himself, to take first place in their lives, thus, breaking God’s command to “… seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6:33)
They allowed these provisions to become ‘idols’ in their lives. They failed to accept that the provisions are temporary, thus turning their desires from heavenly things to earthly things, resulting in loss of focus on their Christian journey.
This is the life of complacent Christians. It is easy for them to say “I love God,” “I surrender all,” “I give my all,” when they don’t have much. It’s when God begins to pour out His provisions upon them that it becomes difficult. They become preoccupied with business meetings, family issues, academic work, career, and finances to the detriment of the quality time they need to spend in communing with God. They only approach God when they are facing problems. After getting solutions to their problems, they go back to their old way of living. They become slaves to the very things they are supposed to rule. They become servants of the very things God has given them control over.
Just as David Wilkerson observed in the lives of the Israelites, we usually draw away from God “mostly after times of great blessing and prosperity,” and then, we go back to ‘worship’ the provisions in our lives.
What are you holding on to that is preventing you from drawing closer to God? Is it the change in career, the beautiful marriage you’re enjoying, the beautiful kids you’re looking after, the deadline you have to meet, or an addiction to the television, video games or pornography? Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)