Faithful Unto Death
"And to the pastor of the church in Smyrna write: 'The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. 9 "'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'
Jesus is commending this pastor and church. Tribulation, poverty, and slander characterize the circumstances of this pastor and church. However, the believers are actually rich in the eyes of God. Material wealth is not an indication of God’s favor in a person’s life. Rich to God is gauged by how much of the riches of the believers’ glorious inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:18) is being used in their lives. Every believer has been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3) for abundant living in a sinful world. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are part of what makes people living in poverty rich (Galatians 5:22-23). The other portion of their riches is completing the work assignments God has given every believer and bearing much fruit (John 15:16). Are you rich in God’s sight?
Jesus told the Jewish leaders opposing Him that their father was the Devil (John 8:44). Jesus called the Jews persecuting the believers in Smyrna a synagogue of Satan. Our opposition as Christians is not merely people, but people moved by Satan and his demon followers (Ephesians 6:12). Just because a person says they believe in the Lord does not mean they really do. True believers do God’s will (Matthew 7:21). Are you a true believer who does God’s will?
All who seek to live godly lives will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Notice in our text today who is behind the apparent human persecution, “The devil is about to throw some of you into prison.” Notice also that believers are being tested when enduring prison for the sake of Christ. Believers are to be faithful unto death knowing they will receive the crown of life. Are you seeking to live a godly life even though you will be persecuted? Are you willing to be faithful unto death?
If you compare your life to the pastor and people of Smyrna and compare favorably, then you are pleasing and glorifying God. If you are not like the people in Smyrna then you need to repent of the differences, receive Jesus’ forgiveness and begin to live according to God’s will.
Three key questions to ask as we prayerfully read the scriptures:
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