8 “Write this to the angel of the church in Smyrna:
These are the words of the one who is the first and the last, who died and came back to life: 9 I know your hardship and poverty (though you are actually rich). I also know the hurtful things that have been spoken about you by those who say they are Jews (though they are not, but are really Satan’s synagogue). 10 Don’t be afraid of what you are going to suffer. Look! The devil is going to throw some of you into prison in order to test you. You will suffer hardship for ten days. Be faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 If you can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Those who emerge victorious won’t be hurt by the second death.
Kansas City’s beloved Chiefs learned last Sunday that the road to being Super Bowl champions is full of obstacles. Legendary coach and motivator Vince Lombardi kept his team battling, even against defeats or obstacles, saying, “Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.”* The church at Smyrna faced intense persecution and hardship, yet the Revelator urged them not to give in, not to quit their faith. (In fact, the vision gave all seven churches promises for those who “emerge victorious”—cf. Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21.)
- The persecution the first-century church experienced was far more intense and serious than any football team (or most Johnson County Christians) will ever face. But the principle of not quitting and keeping the faith also applies to your spiritual life. Have there been times when you felt like giving up? What did you do at those times? What was the result?
- God assured believers in Smyrna that “the crown of life” (the word for an Olympic champion’s wreath, that day’s Super Bowl trophy) awaited them. The apostle Paul used the same word. The time of his death was near, he wrote, and added, “I have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. At last the champion’s wreath that is awarded for righteousness is waiting for me” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). How serious are you about never quitting, keeping the faith and ultimately receiving God’s great victory “trophy”?
Lord Jesus, provide the strength and resolve for us to never quit in our daily service to you. Help us hold the promise of James 1:12 as a constant reminder to stand firm. Amen.
* Quote found at http://www.greatest-inspirational-quotes.com/vince-lombardi-quotes.html.
Ginger is a graduate of Saint Paul School of Theology. She and her husband Rob have a son, a daughter, and a high energy dog. She loves writing, conversations over coffee, and teaching spiritual classes.