Monday, March 14, 2016

A Performance Review by Jesus

Have you recently had a performance review at work?  Did it incorporate a 360° feedback loop?  Was it a big surprise or did it go as expected?  They can be kind of intimidating if you don’t trust who is giving it to you or if you feel like you are being treated unfairly.  On the other side of the equation, are you in a role where you give performance reviews? Do you try to be specific and blend positive with constructive feedback?  For our study in the morning, let’s look at the job review Jesus gave the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:2-7

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place.But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans,which I also hate.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Things to think about:

  • Jesus starts with the positive.  We’ve probably all been taught that whether giving feedback to our kids or co-workers, we should start off with the positive. It sets a good tone and rightly prioritizes what’s going well.
    • in this case, Jesus focuses on their deeds, hard work, and perseverance.  We know that faith without works is dead (James 2:20).  
    • recently we looked at John 14:15 - if you love Me, keep my commands
    • clearly, it is important that we are walking the walk and doing the work the Master has assigned to us
  • Secondly, Jesus commends them for their strong working knowledge of the truth and their uncompromising attitude towards it.
    • no tolerance for wicked people is a good place to be.  As society keeps redefining right and wrong, knowing and walking in absolute truth is vital for winning the fight.
    • 2 Corinthians 2:11 says that we should not be outwitted by Satan and his schemes, for we are not ignorant his designs
  • Thirdly, He puts more context around their perseverance and patience, even while enduring hardships
  • all in all, sounds like they were doing a lot of the right things
    • but therein lies the rub - lots of doing. Too much of a focus on doing leads to legalism.  When we become legalistic we trade the Lord for the Law
    • Remember Jesus’ admonition to Martha in Luke 10 - 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
  • His criticism of the church was that they had lost their first love
    • Who or what was their first love?
    • Do you remember when you first fell in love with your wife?  Your priorities changed so that making her happy was your first and most important responsibility.
    • but over time, we become comfortable with those closest to us and can tend to stop being as attentive as we once were
  • Jesus goes on to say that the should consider how far they had fallen
    • fallen from what or where?
    • when one first comes to the Lord in the light of acknowledging their sin, and in gratitude for the amazing grace that is extended to us, we can be on Cloud 9 for good reason
    • but of course, life and distractions press in on us and we can lose sight of the incredible gift that has been bestowed upon us.  More importantly, we can forget or simply take for granted the bestower of the gift
    • Why is this a big deal to Jesus?
  • Graciously He offers a path back to intimate fellowship with Himself
    • Repent and do the things you did at first
    • but Jesus is not weak or lacking in authority.  If you do not repent, He warns them, I will remove your lamp stand from its place
    • the lamp stand is the church.  Good trees bear fruit and are pruned.  Bad trees are cut down and thrown in the fire.
  • But Jesus turns back on to the positive tack and leaves them with a compliment and a promise
    • compliment- they hate the practices of the Nicolaitans - they were various sorts of truth-twisters who led people astray
    • promise - to the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life which is in the paradise of God
    • why should eating from the tree of life be tremendous motivation for them and us?

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