Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable…
He does not willingly threaten, and He never scolds; but He rather speaks to men's hearts, and their reason, and comes to them as a friend, than addresses Himself to their fears.
I. Now, I observe that the first need of the lukewarm Church Is TO OPEN ITS EYES TO SEE FACTS. Observe that the text falls into two distinct parts, and that the counsel to buy does not extend — though it is ordinarily read as if it did — to the last item in our Lord's advice. These Laodiceans are bid to "buy of" Him "gold" and "raiment," but they are bid to use the "eyesalve" that they "may see." No doubt, whatever is meant by that "eyesalve" comes from Him, as does everything else. But my point is that these people are supposed already to possess it, and that they are bid to employ it. No doubt the exhortation, "anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see," may be so extended as to refer to the general condition of spiritual blindness which attaches to humanity, apart from the illuminating and sight-giving work of Jesus Christ. That true Light, which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world, has a three-fold office as the result of all the parts of which there comes to our darkened eyes the vision of the things that are. He reveals the objects to see; He gives the light by which we see them; and He gives us eyes to see with. "Behold Me as I am, and the things that I reveal to you as they are; and then you will see yourselves as you are." So, then, there comes out of this exhortation this thought, that a symptom constantly accompanying the lukewarm condition is absolute unconsciousness of it. In all regions the worse a man is the less he knows it. It is the good people that know themselves to be bad; the bad ones, when they think about themselves, conceit themselves to be good. The higher a man climbs in any science, or in the practice of any virtue, the more clearly he sees the unscaled peaks above him. The frost-bitten limb is quite comfortable. Another thought suggested by this part of the counsel is that the blind man must himself rub in the eyesalve. Nobody else can do it for him. True! It comes like every other good thing, from the Christ in the heavens; and, as I have already said, if we will attach specific meanings to every part of a metaphor, that "eyesalve" may be the influence of the Divine Spirit who convicts men of sin. But whatever it is you have to apply it to your own eyes. Our forefathers made too much of self-examination as a Christian duty, and pursued it often for mistaken purposes. But this generation makes far too light of it. Apply the eyesalve; it will be keen, it will bite; welcome the smart, and be sure that anything is good for you which takes away the veil that self-complacency casts over your true condition, and lets the light of God into the cellars and dark places of your souls.
II. The second need of the lukewarm Church IS THE TRUE WEALTH WHICH CHRIST GIVES. "I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire." Now, there may be many different ways of putting the thought that is conveyed here, but I think the deepest truth of human nature is that the only wealth for a man is the possession of God. That wealth alone makes us paupers truly rich. For there is nothing else that satisfies a man's craving, and supplies a man's needs. That wealth has immunity from all accidents. No possession is truly mine of which any outward contingency or circumstance can deprive me. But this wealth, the wealth of a heart enriched with the possession of God, whom it knows, loves, trusts, and obeys, this wealth is incorporated with a man's very being, and enters into the substance of his nature; and so nothing can deprive him of it. The only possession which we can take with us when our nerveless hands drop all other good, and our hearts are untwined from all other loves, is this durable riches.
III. The third need of a lukewarm Church is THE RAIMENT — THAT CHRIST GIVES. The wealth which He bids us buy of Him belongs mostly to our inward life; the raiment which He proffers us to wear, as is natural to the figure, applies mainly to our outward lives, and signifies the dress of our spirits as these are presented to the world. I need not remind you of how frequently this metaphor is employed throughout the Scripture. There is nothing in the world valuer than effort after righteousness which is not based on faith. "Buy of Me raiment," and then, listen to the voice which says, "Put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man of God created in righteousness and holiness of truth."
IV. Lastly, ALL SUPPLY OF THESE NEEDS IS TO BE BOUGHT. "Buy of Me." There is nothing in that counsel contradictory to the great truth, that "the gift of God is eternal life."
(A. Maclaren, 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: