Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable…
Looked at broadly, these words intimate that the Lord has not given them up, however desperate their condition. To the hearing ear they sound like this, "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thine help." It will be found that the grace of Christ meets the Laodiceans at every point. Knowing their poverty, the Lord offers to provide them with true and durable riches — gold bright from the fire. The fire-purged gold represents those spiritual possessions in which the true wealth of a Church consists. What shall we count in under this head? Light is thrown on the question by what we are told (2 Corinthians 8:1-5) concerning the Churches of Macedonia. They were marked by "deep poverty," but that poverty was conjoined with "abundance of joy" — the joy of the Holy Ghost, which had never failed them since they embraced the gospel; that joy of theirs was "gold." Again, even in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality; that liberality of theirs was "gold." Again, there was the outflow of love to their suffering brethren in Christ at a distance; they were willing to contribute to their help, even beyond their power: that love was "gold." A Church that is rich in these things is rich indeed. Besides being poor, the Laodiceans were naked. So He invites them to make application to Him, and promises to give "white raiment," etc. This represents and symbolises the saintliness of life in which saintliness of heart expresses itself. As the dress clothes the body, and answers to its form and size, so a saintly life is the garb, as it were, and expression of a holy heart. The "well-doing" in which we are not to be "weary" is not the mere doing of what is "good," but of what is "beautiful"; and beauty of living is the outward of heartbeauty, as a smile is the outward of heart-cheer. Besides being poor and naked, they were blind; answering to the prophet's description of "the blind people who have eyes," or like those men who appealed to Jesus with the question, "Are we blind also?" Now we must settle it in our hearts that we can find what we need only in Christ, and nowhere else. "Buy," He says, "of Me." We must not merely look away from man, we must also look away from ourselves to Him. There is a peculiar and very delightful emotion produced in the mind by fine scenery; almost every one, I suppose, knows what it is. You sit in a room which commands one of the finest views in the country. Your face, however, as it happens, is turned away from the window. You shut your eyes and strive to call up the peculiar emotion to which I have referred. Of course you fail. All the striving in the world would be in vain. What, then? Rise from your chair, open your eyes, step to the window, gaze forth upon the scene outspread before you, and let it produce its own effect upon your mind. In like manner, in religion, we shall not succeed in getting the right feeling by our trying and striving, we must look out of ourselves to Christ.
(J. Culross, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: