Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: – Revelation 3:17
When Jesus assessed the spiritual status of the church of the Laodiceans, He made several observations that hit far too close to home to many in this day we live. This church had a spiritual temperature that was just status quo; not too hot, not too cold. It was this self-confident, unconcerned attitude that led to a state of this church that Jesus expressed that it made Him sick. He said He would “spew them out.” What was the self assessment of this church? They saw themselves as rich, having much, and needing nothing. The attitude was “Oh, I’m good.” Jesus saw them as wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. They were lacking in every imaginable way. What went wrong? How did this happen?
“I have need of nothing”
Notice that last phrase of their assessment: “[I] have need of nothing.” This is the problem. Self-sufficiency is the enemy of the grace of God. The moment we think we have things figured out, we stop relying on God. We don’t deny Him. We don’t turn from Him. We just stop seeking Him for our needs. This is what happened over and over with Israel. They passionately called on God when things we bad; like the bondage of Egypt, or the various captivities. When God would rescue them and things were going well, they would let their guard down. Complacency would set in and their hearts would grow cold toward the things of God.
This struggle really is human nature. We are hedonistic by nature. We naturally live for the pleasure of self. This was the issue Paul said would be the defining characteristic of the last days’ perilous times. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves…” (2 Timothy 3:1-2a). All of the other behavioral characteristics of people in the last days flow from that phrase, “lovers of their own selves.” We naturally love ourselves. You combine that with what the Laodiceans experiences as they were rich, increased with goods, and in need of nothing, it becomes extremely easy to spiritually drift. A society that was wholly given over to hedonism was a city by the name of Sodom. Most of us are familiar with the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19. We would make the assessment that God killed them because “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13). But God gives a more detailed analysis of the heart condition of Sodom that led to this in Ezekiel 16:49-50, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.” Sodom’s issues, in order, were: pride, abundance of stuff, boredom, lack of compassion, and that led to pride and immorality. Human nature is, when things go good, we easily drift.
No one like a person who is extremely needy all of the time. However, that is where God wants us to be. He desires us to be dependent on Him. Jesus said in John 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” Not only should we be absolutely dependent on Him if we are going to accomplish anything of value, but without Him, we will accomplish nothing. When Jesus was sitting with a group of publicans, the Pharisees and scribes saw this and murmured against the disciples about their eating with sinners. Jesus responded with, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). If we’re not sick, if we’re not in need, then we don’t need the Great Physician. We will not read God’s words like we ought if we don’t desperately need to hear from God. We will not plead with Him for wisdom as we ought if we think we have all of the answers. We will not walk with God if we think we can walk just fine on our own. Be humble, and never forget what a wretch you are apart form Christ!