We “Have a Name”
by Robert Turner
Concerning the church at Sardis, the Lord said, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1). Now think, where did they get that “name”?
“Name” is here used in the sense of reputation the popular opinion. But the smallness and insignificance of the cause of Christ in the world at that time negates any suggestion that this was a “name” in the world’s Hall of Fame. The world couldn’t care less. Yet, someone had to give them that name, and give it such general acceptance as to warrant significance. The Lord certainly did not sanction this appraisal; so we are forced to conclude that their peers, or social circle, gave them their “name”.
Other churches, others of their professed “kind,” must have talked of their “good works,” “wonderful spirit,” “liberal contributions” or whatever that generation considered great. It is apparent that brethren of that age were no more qualified judges of what God approves than their current counterparts. Doesn’t it shake you? They had a good reputation they got it from their own brethren and it did not amount to a hill of beans (when beans were cheap). No wonder Paul said those who “measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves, are not wise” (II Corinthians 10:12). For the Lord said of Sardis, that Big Name church, “thou art dead.” What remained was “ready to die.” The “few names in Sardis” who had not defiled their garments must have stood out from the rest like a sore thumb — a few cranks or “fanatics” who would not line up with the majority. Perhaps those “on the march” wished them gone, so as to remove that source of criticism and embarrassment, not realizing that they were the last bit of salt in the whole stinking mess.
The majority “had a name” — and it seems the “name” was more valued than the truth. Well, we all have a name — of some sort — with both God and man. Our concern for what men think often blinds us to what God thinks of us — and that’s what I’d call real near-sightedness. Man, a good reputation is not enough. We’ve got to consider who gives us our “name.”