walk in the word
“I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1b, esv).
Do you remember the first time you saw a dead person? The first time I saw someone dead, I was in eighth grade. I was on my way to school, taking a shortcut through some woods. It was pouring rain. And there—right in my path—was this dead guy. His face was white with blue splotches. His mouth and eyes were wide open. Apparently he had a massive heart attack doing some landscaping. I was in shock!
I could go on about that story, but here’s my point: Looking alive is not the same as being alive.
“We’re either living the Christian life, or we’re dead.”
It’s really something when Jesus says, “You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” This is Jesus confronting the church in Sardis, saying essentially, “I know you! You get an A for appearance, but you flunk being alive. Your PR team is working overtime but the reality is, you’re dead!”
Apparently this group had an amazing reputation. People were fired up about the church at Sardis. It was the place to be. But not according to Jesus. He said that, despite their reputation, they were as good as dead. Dead. Is that not kind of a final word?
Are you dead or alive? I’ve got three statements that will test your spiritual pulse. We’re going to settle this, because the truth is that a lot of people think they’re saved and alive but they’re not. They bought into some phony, watered-downed, feel-good version of Christianity and have missed what it really means to have the abundant life that comes with Christ and His free gift.
So here’s the test. These are indicators that you look alive, but aren’t:
You give only as long as you’re getting.
This is an expression of self-centered deadness. Giving no matter what—continuing to give even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, even when you’re concerned about the economy or your schedule? That’s abundant living.
You only associate with your own clique.
Jesus said, “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same” (Matthew 5:47)? You’re thinking, Everybody’s got their crowd; their circle of friends—that’s my focus. But Jesus is telling you even pagans do that much. Anybody can say “hi” to their buddies and still be dead. The question is, how do you treat strangers? Check out Matthew 5:43–48 and Hebrews 13:1–3.
You only love your friends.
How do you love people you don’t know, or people who are difficult and draining? Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same” (Matthew 5:46)?
“I only give if I’m getting.” “I only hang out with my clique.” “I only love my friends.” If any of these are you, Jesus says you’ve got no pulse.
But if you give generously without expectation, if you greet strangers, if you love your enemies—how’s life going for you? Are you forgiving people who abuse and mistreat you, and letting offenses go?
Appearances aside, we’re either living the Christian life, or we’re dead.
Lord, by Your Spirit, please speak into my life. As I sit quietly, expectantly, show me any ways in which I’m settling for a false appearance of life instead of authentically living for You. Help me see what I need to stop doing or start doing as I seek to walk with You and live wholly for You. I trust You to do this, and I praise You for being the God who gives life to the dead. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, amen.
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