I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie--indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
'The Faithful Church' was Philadelphia.
Jesus speaks no downside in this letter. He gives the church of Philadelphia commendations, encouragement, and promises. These Christians are doing it right.
Here's the thing: it does not appear their lives were easy. Maybe being new kids on the spiritual block, speaking words of revolutionary faith, was not a sidewalk stroll. Maybe they were hard pressed by religious bullies.
On the other hand, God says if the world loves us, we're doing something wrong. 'If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you' (John 15:19).
It's tough to put ourselves at odds with the world in which we live. But when we lose, He wins.
So, what do these Christ followers do right?
1) They persevere. The word 'persevere' only appears twice in the Bible--both times in Revelation. To persevere is to 'maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; to continue steadfastly' (Random House Dictionary). In Jesus' words, 'You are those who have continued with Me in My trials' (Luke 22:28).
2) They stand up for Jesus in all circumstances without compromise. 'Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in Heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in Heaven' (Matthew 10:32-33).
3) They keep His Word. 'He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him' (John 14:21).
In considering the other letters, the members of this church did not compromise with the world, did not allow bad leadership, did not forget their first love for Jesus nor His people, did not get corrupted, did not lose their passion, and therein--did not lose their effectiveness.
They are among the 'Called, chosen, and faithful' (Revelation 17:14). If we're not there yet, let's join them.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Which Church Are You? series.