“I’m only telling you this because I care . . .”
I cannot count the number of times some version of these words attempted to cushion a critique or piece of advice that hurt me, sometimes shocked me, but often (begrudgingly) set me on a better path.
Let’s be honest, the only people who are safe to give you the kind of talking-to that involves those words are the ones you have a trusting relationship with. I have received it from my parents, from teachers who expected better, from doctors who recognize that correcting behavior early is better than paying later, and from my husband.
He wanted them to experience everything that life could offer if they followed Him wholly.
How about you? Have you heard those words from someone you love and trust?
It should come as no surprise that Jesus used the same method when addressing the churches of John’s day. After all, this is the same Jesus who compared God’s relationship with His followers to many of the same relationships as above—our Father, the great physician, a teacher, a bridegroom. In Revelation 3:19, His message to Laodicea, Jesus says the words that we all recognize from our own lives: “ ‘I correct and punish those whom I love. So be eager to do right, and change your hearts and lives’ ” (NCV).
The heavy themes in the book of Revelation are certainly not ideal for breezing through in a quick devotion. Christ’s messages to the churches are no exception. The accusations of misdeeds, sins, and immorality are met with threats of life and death without redemption. In comparison, the promises of victory and worthiness seem like distant goals.
It’s the simple words of love in the midst of the criticism, calculation of sins, and reprimands that shine a light on the true nature of Christ in these messages. He didn’t want the church to turn away from their lukewarm nature and worldly wealth for His own vanity or gain. He wanted them to experience everything that life could offer if they followed Him wholly. He wanted them to share in the kingdom by His side and share His throne! Just like a parent, a teacher, a doctor, a spouse, it’s love that makes Him to want better from them. Do you want to know the very best part? He wants the same for us! Keep that in mind when you study Scripture—look for the messages that speak to you sharply or the words that set you off-balance. I challenge you to look at those passages again, knowing that Jesus corrects those He loves. Like me, you may then find the eagerness to do right that will truly change your heart and life.