When I was in elementary school, it was called “grade school” back then, they were simpler times, every six weeks I was filled with stress and anxiety. It was time for “report cards”. There were classes I didn’t worry about like PE, but there were others I hoped would be okay when I took the report card to my parents for the signature. Of course, report cards were an evaluation of my progress, not a final grade. I had the rest of the year to improve in areas I was found lacking in. It meant I needed to pay more attention in those subjects and apply myself to doing what was required to pass at the end of the year. Now, don’t get ahead of me. I haven’t got into the scriptures yet.
When you read Revelation chapter 3, you read about three churches of the seven that Jesus had John send messages to. Two of these churches didn’t do to well on their “report card”, while the third passed with flying colors. Let’s look briefly at these churches and see how we may be able to apply the lessons to our lives.
First, Sardis is the church that Jesus said was “dead”. They tried to appear as if they were alive and well, but Jesus gave them failing marks in most of everything they were doing or not doing as a church. In verse 2 Jesus gives them their assignment: “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.” Complacency seemed to be a big part of their problem. Complacency leads to carelessness and compromise and then corruption. Jesus said REVIVE (wake up), REMEMBER what you’ve been taught in scripture, and REPENT of your sins and failures.
Next let’s look at the church in Laodicea. This church is the lukewarm church. Jesus said they were neither cold or hot. Sounds like when I was as a student in school. I passed my classes, but I really didn’t care. I didn’t do any more than I had to. I was happy just getting by. Jesus doesn’t sound like just getting by is going to cut it with this church. Verse 16 says, "So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Jesus knows their hearts. They are trusting in their wealth and own resources, not in Him. His assignment for them is the same as Sardis, REPENT. Verse 19 states, "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Stop depending on themselves and leaving Him out of their lives. He loves them and wants them to return that love by including Him in their daily existence."
Finally, let’s look at the third church, Philadelphia. Jesus has no rebuke for this church. Instead, He speaks into their lives revealing to us and to them that He knows exactly what they have been going through. And He gives them assurance and encouragement that He is going to see them through to the very end if they will continue to trust Him and honor Him as they have been doing. Verses 11 and 12 say, "I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name." It seems the people in the church at Philadelphia were living in relationship with Jesus and walking in the Spirit regularly the way the Bible instructs to do. Jesus gives all these churches hope. This is not your final grade, it’s a “progress report”. He deals with us the same way. He promises to help each of us to overcome and be victorious over every battle in life if we will place our trust in Him, live daily in relationship with Him, and apply ourselves to learning His Word and walking in its precepts.