17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— …”
Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—
The Laodicean church claimed material wealth. The word “wealthy” means opulence. They felt that they did not lack anything. Because of that, they deemed that they needed nothing, as if all that there is to life is material wealth. They do not require God in their lives. They do not need Him for they have “everything.”
and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—
The word “wretched” carries the idea of a distressed, miserable and wretched person (Ro 7:24). These people were “distressed” but they did not know it. Material things can make us depressed if we make them the center of our lives.
The word “miserable” means pitiable (1 Co 15:19). Jesus pitied these people but they do not know it.
The church at Laodicea was wealthy in terms of material wealth but poor in terms of spiritual wealth. The word “poor” describes someone who crouches and cowers, a beggar. This church was spiritually poverty-stricken. They were powerless to enrich their own lives or anyone else. They went begging spiritually. They were impotent to make any eternal impact. They were destitute of the wealth that comes from God.
The church at Laodicea was also “blind.” They were blind to the reality of a godly life. They were in the dark spiritually. Spiritual things were obscure to them. Spiritual values were as clear as mud. They did not have the capacity to comprehend God’s plan for their lives (Mt 15:14).
The last characteristic of the church at Laodicea was that it was “naked.” This was a church without spiritual clothes. They thought that they had a complete wardrobe by their material wealth but Jesus saw them as walking around naked. They were not even like the poor who at least had some clothes to cover themselves. This church had nothing to cover themselves spiritually.
God’s estimation of us is often very different from our estimation of ourselves.
We can be in a deplorable spiritual state and not even know it. Our pride so blinds us that we can not see what we are. Self-conceit brings self-delusion. There is a big difference between how we view ourselves and how Jesus views us. We think that we do not have any needs. Jesus sees us as totally needy. A materialistic worldview makes us blind to a spiritual worldview. Care of our bodies blinds us to care of our souls.
This condition of things calls for pity. Our souls starve while our bodies are full. We are blind to all this. We can not see our state. We think that we know ourselves. Yet we are naked and lay exposed to embarrassment to Jesus. Riches of the body cannot enrich the soul.