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Written by Bill Bradford
I was in Vanuatu last week to assist our brethren here to do some simple things that we take for granted - have a place to meet on the Sabbath and to also keep the Feast of Tabernacles when it comes. These are things we take for granted and, even then, tend to neglect because of our preoccupation with this world.
What crossed my mind while there was what Jesus Christ says about the Smyrna Church. “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)....” (Revelation 2:9).
The Smyrna church had something of which Jesus took particular notice. It was not their standing in this world with respect to this world’s wealth or position. They were rich in something else that was so much more esteemed by Jesus Christ, and would stand them well in the future Kingdom of God.
How did He regard them as rich?
They were rich in faith, and heirs of His kingdom. Though poor in this world, they were rich with the riches of Christ, with the blessings of the covenant, with the mind and heart of the Spirit, and in good works; they were regarded as kings and priests unto God, and had a kingdom of grace to inherit, and a right to the kingdom of glory hereafter; and were heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.
I have not seen anywhere where people have so little, yet value the truth they have been given. Our brethren in Vanuatu are truly special people and I hope when speaking to them to help them realize how rich they really are with what they have been given through Jesus Christ. They are so appreciative of anything we do for them that helps them pursue the great purpose for which they were called.
Jesus Christ knew poverty. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
He wants us to share in His riches and He distributes generously. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6).
This is in contrast to the Laodicean Church. “Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' - and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). It is in this way God sees the real difference between rich and poor. Let us have respect to the poor in Christ - they are really wealthy.
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