If God wrote you a letter, what do you think He would say? Would He thank you for serving in kids church or for helping as a youth group sponsor? Would He commend you for opening your home for a weekly small group? After He listed your accomplishments and obedience, would it be followed by nevertheless, I despise the ungodly shows you watch, and I detest that you gossip at lunch after church?
No matter what good things we may do in the service of the Lord, we need to be conscious of the possibility of hearing a dreaded nevertheless. We see the dreaded “nevertheless” in Revelation chapter two as John’s scribing letters to the seven churches. These were churches in Asia, yet what’s written to these seven churches can describe churches and individuals today.
Revelation 2:2-5 NKJV “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars, and you have persevered and had patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.”
Revelation 2:14-16 NKJV “But I have a few things against you because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”
Revelation 2:19-23 NKJV “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”
As I have been reading Revelation, one through five these last several days, that phrase, “nevertheless I have this against you,” has stuck out to me. No matter what good things Jesus had to say to those three churches, He followed it with a nevertheless and told the churches where they had failed and called them to repentance. We need to take the nevertheless to heart and examine our lives, both in public and private, to see if we are walking as we are called to walk.
Closely related to Jesus’s words to the churches are His words in Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
You cannot rely on a prayer once prayed that was not followed by a life lived in obedience. Jesus said in John fourteen that those who love Him would keep His commandments. We are called to holiness, we see that throughout the New Testament, and the letters to the seven churches remind us of how serious we should take that call. I don’t want to hear nevertheless, and I don’t want to hear depart from Me. What might your nevertheless be? Let’s continually review our lives so that we are sure we are walking rightly before God.