Summary: A continuation of a study on the seven churches of Revelation. The church of Thyatira was worldly, ungodly, and yet there were a few in it that kept the faith and were commended and encouraged to hang in there.
Not Tolerating Tolerance: The Church of Thyatira
Introduction: We are entering the heart of Summer, which means we are entering the heat of Summer. Last week I briefly mentioned the thorny soil in Mark 4 – it got me thinking how we usually begin Spring with great relief because of warmer days ahead and if you are like many people with spring fever, you go out on the first nice day in May and get flowers for the flowerbeds, or seeds for a vegetable garden. The first week or two you work that garden pulling weeds with enthusiasm, and the third and fourth week, while you still maintain it, you pull the weeds with a little less enthusiasm. Then during the fifth and sixth week the hot weather comes in and the garden becomes more work than enjoyment, and after that you let it go for a couple of days and say “I'll get it later” or “I'll do it tomorrow or next week” then you look out the window and you notice your once pristine garden is now completely overrun with weeds.
Just like weeds in the garden that we just don't have the desire, concern, or will to pull out anymore Thyatira didn't pull out the weeds of sin and corruption began to take over. If we don't labor to pull out sin immediately and persistently – it will take over.
Last week we studied how the church of Pergamum was warned about their worldly compromises. They had a few weeds in their garden that needed to be removed, but what was just beginning to happen in Pergamum had come into full bloom in Thyatira. As one person put it, “If the church married the world in Pergamum, in Thyatira they were celebrating anniversaries. This is the church that tolerated sin, absorbed sin, and lived happily ever after with it.” Sin? What sin? I don't see any sin? That was Thyatira. The Lord introduces himself accordingly in verse 18 saying “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.”
Jesus says “These are the words of the Son of God” This is the only time in Revelation the name “Son of God” appears. 'Son of Man' is used to emphasize Jesus' humanity but 'Son of God' emphasizes Christs' deity. He lets them know that He has the authority of God “whose eyes are like blazing fire” His piercing eyes sees their condition through all facades and darkness with perfect knowledge. “and whose feet are like burnished bronze” Bronze was the strongest metal during this time so He lets them know that He sees them from a position of strength and holiness.
Transition: We learn three things about the Church of Thyatira; The church of Thyatira had potential, they had problems, and they had a promise
The Church of Thyatira had Potential
Even among this corrupted church, Jesus graciously finds something good to say about them. He doesn't flatter them, but He encourages the few that were still earnest in their relationship with him, that they are improving.
“I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.” Rev. 2:19
After hearing that you would think this is the model church. It should be our desire that our last works are better than our first. Each day should be better than the day before. We sing the hymn “Just a closer walk with thee” that is our hope and our desire. Every week we should be closer than the week before, doing more than we did at first.
Thyatira was the only church out of the seven that was commended for their love. This church is not only loving but they are growing and acting out of that love, and looking from the outside this would have been an impressive church. They were growing, working, ministering to the needs of others. When I leave this world I want my last day to be my best day. I want to be like Enoch walking so close to God that once I die the only surprise is the surroundings.
Before we praise them too much, let's keep in mind that you can find love outside the church just as easily as you can find love inside one. The church in Ephesus lost their love, remember? One can find love in some of the most unlikely places. You can find love in third world slums, where you might expect nothing but pain and suffering but surprisingly, there are those who sincerely care and love to help one another. This will shock some of you, but you can also find love amongst inner city gangs, who grew up without a family but they found a family in a local gang, they may hate everyone else but they do love each other. (even the police will tell you this) I don't mean to diminish Thyatira's love, my point is is that love isn't exclusive to the church. We can have a church that loves and still be far from the church that Christ desires. Both churches in Pergamum and Thyatira prove that.