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 TLV “I know all about your deeds and your toil and your patient endurance, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. You have tested those who call themselves emissaries and are not, and have found them to be liars. 3 You have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 “But this I have against you, that you have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember then from where you have fallen. Repent and do the deeds you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your menorah from its place—unless you repent.”
Revelation 2:14-16 TLV ““But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who was teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before Bnei-Yisrael, to eat food sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent then! If not, I will come to you soon and make war against them with the sword of My mouth.”
Revelation 2:19-23 TLV “I know your deeds and your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your last deeds are greater than the first. 20 “But this I have against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess—yet she is teaching and deceiving My servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation—unless they repent of her doings. 23 I will also strike her children with a deadly disease. Then all of Messiah’s communities will know that I am the One who searches minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your deeds.”
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 TLV “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of 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.