Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Revelation 3:17-18
Laodicea was an important city, a banking center, a crossroad of trades and a place famous for wealth and self-sufficiency. When Laodicea suffered from a major earthquake, “it proudly refused imperial financial assistance in rebuilding,” and chose to rebuild the city using its own resources. The population was cosmopolitan, sophisticated, and proud of their city. Among their exports were expensive and seamless garments made of black glossy wools. They were also famous for their treatment of eye diseases, which they considered to be “magical pharmacopoeia.” The church in Laodicea was worldly and lukewarm.
In our text today, Christ is reminding the Laodicean church that their self-confidence in their wealth and achievements and their self-sufficiency are empty and have no solid basis. In reality they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Their true conditions are masked by their lifestyle of riches and success, but the hidden truth is waiting to raise its head at the first chance.
Don’t we in the West often think of ourselves the same way? We are blessed to have all kinds of resources at our disposal. We are busy with our trades, with our entertainment, pleasures, and are determined to pull ourselves up the ladder of life towards greater recognition, success, wealth, and fame.
Christ is advising the Laodiceans to find wealth and success in a different place. He tells them that if through discipline (3:19), suffering, and pain, they cling to Christ they will earn true gold—gold refined in the fire of sanctification, gold that has eternal value, and will not be lost or devalued with the changes in the market. The fire of sanctification that comes through hardships of life will remove pride, self-sufficiency, delusions about self-control over our lives, hopeless idols, and empty promises of this world. What remains will be faith and hope in a God who is eternal and will never forsake or leave us regardless of how hot the fire gets! What remains will be a people clothed in white garments of righteousness that are received through faith in Christ (Phil.3:9, Rev.3:5). This white garment, contrary to the black glossy wool exports of Laodicea, is able to cover our innate shame, guilt, and sinfulness. And it is Christ’s healing power through His Spirit that can work as an eye salve to heal a blind eye (Mark 8:23-25) so that they can truly see the reality vs. their “magical pharmacopoeia.”
“Those whom I love I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev.3:19-20). When Jesus knocks at our door, He is calling us to a life of fellowship and surrender, a fellowship of His suffering (Phil.3:10) plus a fellowship of His glory (Col3:4; 2 Tim.2:11-12).
Let’s not miss the call!
 Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1986), 73