“To the angel[ of the church in Sardis write: “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.'” (Revelation 3:1, NIV).
“I know your deeds” reveals two things about the church at Sardis. The thirst thing that it shows is that Sardis was an active church, and a church with an outstanding reputation. It helped those in the community, and was known as a church that got things done. The second thing that the statement, “I know your deeds,” reveals is the fact that God was watching Sardis–just as God watches what I do today. He doesn't only know what I do, He knows exactly the reason that I do it. He knows the motive in my heart. God knows me better than I know myself. He knows my true motive for ministry–whether it is really in His name or for my own recognition. The church at Sardis had a lot of things it provided that made a difference in the physical lives of those that they helped. The community recognized the church's efforts and spoke of it as a church of great character. However the church at Sardis had a very great problem.
The angel said to the church, “I know your deeds, but you are dead.” The church had a worldly recognition of being alive, but their name and reputation did not come from God. The church was so busy doing things and trying to please the community instead of God, they forgot that ministry was meant to be in God's name–not their own. In all their “doing and helping” they missed that the church had died. They had convinced each other that their work was totally “spiritual”, and in the process they had failed to realize that they had died on the vine. Yes, Sardis helped those with physical needs, but they couldn't help those with spiritual needs because they needed spiritual help themselves. They had no spiritual intimacy with God, and thus their motives had found a place in their own vanity.
What about your life? What about mine? Have we reached the point where God considers us a Sardis? That what we do for Him is really spiritually dead? Are the deeds we do for Him really coming from a repentant heart that knows without God nothing is possible? Or are we doing them to get ourselves a good name and reputation? Perhaps we don't even realize that is where we are, and that is a dangerous place to be–just as it was for Sardis. Colossians 3:17 says “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” God sees though all my many layers of reasoning, and straight into to my heart. He knows my motives.
Lord, help me to look at my heart today, and examine each motive for each deed. Do my deeds spring from faith or they from myself? I don't want to be known for just being “active”. I want to be known as being used to help others draw closer to you spiritually. The minute that ministry becomes about me is the minute I need to lose it. More than anything, I want what I give you to come from a heart that offers your love. Make me examine my heart until I know the real reason that I do things for you. May the works of my hands always come from a broken and spilled out heart.