Last month, I addressed the issue of our reputation. We all have a reputation – what people think of us. The problem is a reputation is not always accurate. There are many factors that go into it including the experiences and background of those forming the opinion. That’s why opinions can vary greatly. If we are measuring our relationship with God by our reputation with others, then we can gain false comfort like the believers at the church in Sardis. When John wrote his letter in Revelation 3:1-6 he made it clear that their reputation among others was not the same as what God knew. “You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev. 3:1). If we want an accurate assessment of our relationship with God, we need to look at what God knows rather than what man thinks.
Do we really want to know what God knows about us? Well, I’d say that depends. There are times that God’s knowledge of us brings comfort and peace, while there are also times when it brings fear and conviction. The truth is both reactions can be accurate and appropriate depending on our spiritual state. For example our reactions can vary when we read Psalm 139. “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139:1-2). If we are in a lonely place and need to feel loved and known by God, we’re going to write those verses down and post them all over our house. If we are in a rebellious state and living a defiant life, then hopefully that reality will bring conviction.
In many of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, John was instructed to write on Christ’s behalf “I know your deeds”. Those deeds might have been good or bad. In the letter to the church at Ephesus he writes, “I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance” (Rev. 2:2). However, the deeds weren’t as good in the letter to the church at Sardis. “For I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God” (Revelation 3:2). In most of the letters there were affirmations of what they were doing right along with statements that should have brought conviction. For instance, again to the church in Ephesus, “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love” (Rev. 2:4). Therefore God’s knowledge of us is meant to affirm and also to correct.
The bottom line is what God knows is an accurate and true measure of our relationship with Him, so we should pay attention to it. When the truth is positive, embrace it and thank God for always being there and being the one that understands us better than anyone. When His knowledge brings fear and conviction, don’t ignore it, but use that opportunity to repent. Conviction is meant to bring change. Conviction can lead to a happy ending.