Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable…
These Laodicean people were unhappily in such a state that you could not get at them. They were not so poor that they knew they were poor, and therefore when the poverty-stricken were addressed, they said, "These things are not for us: we are increased in goods." They were blind, but they thought they saw; they were naked, and yet they prided themselves on their princely apparel, and hence it was hard to reach them. Had they even been outwardly worse, had they defiled their garments with overt transgression, then the Spirit might have pointed out the blot and convicted them there and then; but what was to be done when the mischief was hidden and internal?
I. First, let us think of the Church in Laodicea and listen to THEIR SAYING; it may prevent us from reaching such a height of pride as to speak as they did.
1. The spirit of self-congratulation expressed itself in a manner strikingly unanimous. It was the general, unanimous feeling, from the minister down to the latest convert, that they were a most wonderful Church. They were heartily at one in having a high estimate of themselves, and this helped to keep them together, and stirred them to attempt great things.
2. This saying of theirs was exceedingly boastful. The present was all right, the past was eminently satisfactory, and they had reached a point of all but absolute perfection, for they needed nothing.
3. They were sincere in this glorying. When they said it they were not consciously boasting, for the text says, "And thou knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." They did not know the truth. How readily do we believe a lie when it fosters in us a high opinion of ourselves.
4. But now see what was their actual state: they were altogether mistaken. These intelligent persons, these wealthy persons, these instructed persons did not know themselves, and that is the grossest kind of ignorance. You remember the Tay Bridge disaster. There is no doubt whatever that the bridge was not fitted for its position, its ordinary strain was all it could bear; but nobody thought so. Undoubtedly the engineers reckoned it would stand any test to which it might be put, and therefore there was no attention given to it to make it any stronger and to provide against sudden disaster; and consequently when a specially fierce hurricane was out one night it swept it all away. That is just the picture of many a Church and many a man, because he is thought to be so pious, and the Church is thought to be so correct and vigorous, therefore no attempt is made for improvement, no special prayer, no cries to heaven.
II. OUR LORD'S BLESSED COUNSEL.
1. Note how He begins: "I counsel thee to buy." Is not that singular advice? Just now He said that they were "wretched" and "poor." How can they buy? Surely it suggests to us at once those blessed free grace terms which are only to be met with in the market of Divine love: "Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
2. But next, what does He say? "I counsel thee to buy of Me." Ah, they had been dealing with one another: they had been bartering amongst themselves. One brother had brought this talent, another that, and they had grown rich, as they thought, by a mutual commerce. "Now," says Christ, "compare yourselves with yourselves no longer: give up seeking of man, and buy of Me." It is the very foundation of grace — to be willing to buy of Christ.
3. Now see the goods which He describes. "I counsel thee to buy of Me" — what? Everything. It is true that only three wants of these people are here mentioned, but they are inclusive of all needs.
4. The counsel of the Lord is not only that we buy of Him everything, but that we buy the best of everything of Him. Gold is the most precious metal, but He would have them buy the best of it, "gold tried in the fire"; gold that will endure all further tests, having survived that of fire. Remember the raiment too, for that is of the best; our Lord calls it "white raiment." That is a pure colour, a holy colour, a royal colour. We put on the Lord Jesus as our joy, our glory, our righteousness. And as to the eyesalve, it is the best possible one, for Jesus says, "Anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see."
5. All this is the counsel of Christ, and the counsel of Christ to a people that were proud and self-conceited.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
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: