Is Your Congregation Rich or Poor?

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Here is what Christ said to two of his churches in Revelation 2 and 3:

“I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!”
– Revelation 2:9 to the church in Smyrna

“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. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich;”
– Revelation 3:17-18 to the church in Laodicea

This question has far more to do with character than it does with dollars and cents. Out of my own curiosity I did a google map search for Laodicea and actually found a couple of hits. I got half a dozen results. Only one street name came up and a few citations from Revelation 3 were in some of the business notes. But can you believe there were two baptist churches named Laodicea? One is in Forsythe, GA and the other in Hanceville, AL which is less than an hour drive from where my family is from. Not too many people name things after the last of the seven churches in the book of Revelation.

One thing that stands out to me when you compare Smyrna and Laodicea is that God is the one who determines if our congregations are rich. He told the church in Smyrna of their great wealth, while the church in Laodicea did their own boasting and was wrong. He is not interested in whether or not we have great amounts of dollar bills to declare ourselves wealthy (which is what Laodicea did).  God is the one who declares us wealthy or poor based on the richness of our hearts and not what is in our bank accounts. Many have noted the great wealth of both of these cities but Laodicea in particular was known for its great banking industry. They were wealthy by the standards of the world but not by God’s standards.

Our churches may have great wealth or have members who have a great wealth in a worldly sense. But it is important for us to realize that does not make us wealthy in the eyes of God. So let me ask it again, “Is your congregation rich or poor?”

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