Self-Centered People
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65. Self-Centered People
Revelation 18.4-8

"Then I heard another voice from heaven say, 'Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins nor receive any of her plagues, for her sins pile up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given, pay her back double for what she has done. Pour her a double portion from her cup.' Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart, she boasts, "I sit as queen. I am not a widow, and I will never mourn." Therefore in one day, her plagues will overtake her with death, mourning, and famine. Fire will consume her, for the Lord God who judges her is mighty.'" (Revelation 18.4-8) ✞

Exploiting Others' Desires

Roman Ship In the Roman Empire, merchants proved to be self-centered people who grew rich by exploiting others' desires. Some business people today are equally greedy and self-absorbed. Eric Fromm (1900-1980), a German psychologist, writes, "Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts a person in an endless effort to satisfy their needs without ever reaching satisfaction." Businesses, governments, and those who run them are often motivated by pure greed, a lust for money, and power. A corrupt system tempts many aggressive individuals to take advantage of others and enrich themselves. However, Christians should stay free from money's lure and status, which brings only ruin. Jeremiah 51.45-46 issues a similar warning to this Revelation passage when he writes, "Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives! Run from the Lord's fierce anger. Do not lose heart or be afraid when you hear rumors in the land; one rumor comes this year, another the next, rumors of violence in the land and ruler against ruler."

Christian Values

Ancient BabylonChristians are called upon to live according to the values Christ exemplifies, that is, service, giving, self-sacrifice, obedience, holiness, and truth. It is an exacting standard to achieve. As Dr. J.I. Packer (1926-2020), the Canadian evangelical theologian, stated in his book, "Knowing God," "There is nothing more irreligious than self-absorbed religion." Packer was a humble man who repudiated the success ethic. I remember meeting him at a conference in Ontario some years ago. He was tall and lean and had an encyclopedic mind. At the end of each lecture, he opened up for questions. A Church Army officer asked him a difficult question about some remote area of Christian theology. He fired back a six-point answer with all the Bible references and complete verses to go with it. I found him a kind, authentic, and sincere person. In an age of fake news and corrupt politicians, business leaders, even church officials tell half-truths and lies to achieve their ends. Babylon's people also lived self-centered luxuriant and pleasure-filled lives. The city in Revelation 18 foolishly boasts, "I sit as queen. I am not a widow, and I will never mourn." The influential, wealthy people of this world are prone to this same arrogant attitude.

Financial Security

Gold CoinsThose who are financially comfortable feel secure and in control and therefore see no need for God. This kind of attitude defies God. God's judgment against them is harsh. Instead, Christians are encouraged not to become complacent and deluded by the myth of self-sufficiency if they are financially secure. Instead, use your resources, be generous with others and advance God's kingdom by giving as much as possible.

Separate Holy People

Great wealth is always a temptation for Christians. Those tied to the world's system will lose everything when it collapses. It is akin to a stock market collapse when everybody's savings in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, bitcoins, or even blue-chip stocks dive. They can destroy in one fell swoop a lifetime's work. Those who labor only for material rewards will have nothing when they die. God's people should not live for money but be separate holy people because wealth is worthless in eternity. They should always guard against the temptation to be greedy, a sin that is always ready to take over our lives. At Babylon's fall, Isaiah 47.7-8 tells us of her boasting, "You said, 'I am forever, the eternal queen!' But you did not consider these things or reflect on the consequences. Listen, you pleasure lover, lounging in your security and saying to yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer my children's loss.'"

Separation From Sinners

Roman MartyrThe cry "Come out of her, my people" in Revelation 18.4a does not mean the city's evacuation but is a call to Christians to separate themselves from sinners. Christ's bride, which is the church, is to be pure and obedient. Throughout history, people have been killed for their faith because they lived a holy life. Over the last century, oppressive governments have murdered many Christians. The woman's drunkenness in Revelation shows her pleasure in her evil accomplishments and her false triumphalism. But every martyr punished for their faith only serves to strengthen other Christians' resolve.

"Self-Centered People"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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