“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
AFFLUENT SOCIETIES ARE OFTEN THE LEAST OPEN TO THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. People who can get whatever they want to satisfy their temporal desires pay little attention to their spiritual needs.
The problem is that material prosperity breeds a false confidence in ourselves. When our immediate desires are fulfilled, we are deluded into thinking that we are self-sufficient. We don’t actually have what we need, of course, but wealth deceives us. Like candy which makes us think we don’t need any food, physical comfort tends to push our spiritual needs into the background.
Even after becoming Christians, affluence can hinder us. The Christians in Laodicea, for example, were prosperous financially, but when the Lord looked at their hearts, He saw that they were “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Doing so well on the outside made it hard for them to recognize their wretchedness on the inside. There were no doubt other congregations in those days that were just as much in need of repentance, but the less wealthy congregations would have had an easier time seeing their need.
But what about us? What should we do? Honesty and courage are always the first steps toward spiritual progress, so the first thing is to come out of hiding and bring ourselves before God’s throne. Lord, help me to see my heart as You see it. Search me and try me. Expose every idol in my heart that has kept me from You. Take away from me every comfort in this world that has blinded me to my deeper needs. Open my eyes to see how much I need You and Your forgiveness.
Whether we are rich or poor, comfortable or uncomfortable, we urgently need to understand the helplessness of our spiritual state. Our sins have put us in an absolutely lost condition before God, and we dare not let the comforts of our lives in this world distract us from our plight. What we need is more than a psychological boost to help us fill in the blanks and round out our worldly resumé — we need to be saved. The sooner we admit our woeful inability, the sooner we’ll be ready to hear the gospel.
“It is to the drowning man the Rescuer comes. To the brave swimmer who can fare well alone He comes not. And no rush of joy can be like that of a man towards his Rescuer” (A. J. Russell).