How can it be that the members of the church at Smyrna can be said to be in “poverty”, and yet be “rich”? For us to understand this statement, it is important to remember its context. Please keep in mind that this statement is part of a list of good qualities that the church possesses. Understanding the context of this statement begs us to ask the question …
How can being in poverty be pleasing to the Lord? The reason for their physical destitution holds the key to the answer. Smyrna remained faithful to the Lord in the face of great persecution. One of the many ways the lost world persecuted them was by shunning them economically. This brought upon the church great poverty while the lost enjoyed worldly prosperity. This is what made their poverty commendable in God’s sight. They willingly chose to forsake material wealth for the sake of their testimony of Christ.
There is yet another question we need to answer… If they are poor and destitute, how can the Lord describe them as “rich”? Although this church was materially poor and needy, they were spiritually wealthy in Christ, both now and in the ages to come. As they faithfully served the Lord, their faithfulness in putting Christ first was displaying that they possessed the Godly riches of: the Word, spiritual discernment, a heart of dedication to Christ, and unity within the church. All of these were of great, current value for the church members who were pursuing Godliness.
But they were also spiritually rich for the eternity that awaited them. Because of their commitment to Christ, they were “laying up in store” rewards that will be of great spiritual wealth throughout eternity.
Folks, may we all remember this very important principle: By being willing to give up all this world has to offer to follow our Lord, we will receive overflowing blessings of spiritual wealth in this world and in the world to come….
Mark 10:28-30 – Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
May the Lord bless us as we seek to serve Him, the One that is so clearly revealed to us in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
For an in depth look at this section of the Revelation: