‘For Thou Hast A Little Strength’
These words are addressed by the Saviour to the church in Philadelphia. The words, “little strength” may mean that it was a small congregation, or that the congregation was not blessed with material resources. They may also imply that the people were conscious of their lack of power.
There are many faithful congregations who feel the same in our generation. The enemies of God seem to be many and powerful, yet we feel weak in comparison. Sometimes individual Christians feel powerless. They are conscious of having few gifts which they can use to the glory of God. They think that there is little they can do in the cause of Christ. In such situations, we can be encouraged by what Christ said to the church of Philadelphia. Despite their “little strength” He noted that they had kept the Word of God. The word “kept” signifies holding fast or maintaining something. Clearly, this weak church had held fast to the Word of God. Christians and congregations who have little strength are able, by the grace of God, to keep the Word of God. This is vital in a day of spiritual compromise which involves the denial of the essential aspects of the gospel. Let it be our aim notwithstanding the difficulties, discouragements or opposition, to know the Scriptures and to always walk in obedience. Our Saviour further commended this church with “little strength” for their faithfulness to His name. They had not denied it (Revelation 3:8). These saints had been under severe pressure to deny Christ; indeed, they had suffered persecution but had stood firm. They had not disavowed His name. We have a faithful Saviour. He did not turn back from all the cross meant for Him so that His people would be redeemed from sin and eternal judgment. It is by His grace that we can remain faithful to Him. His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Remember, God “hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27). Although the church at Philadelphia had “little strength” Christ encouraged it by presenting great opportunities for extended service. He notes, “…behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it” (Revelation 3:8). According to Christ, this congregation was capable of doing much more in the cause of the gospel. An open door of usefulness was before them, a door which no man could shut because it had been opened by Christ. We may have “little strength” but we have a mighty Saviour. In Him, through Him and with Him we can be strong for Him. Therefore, as Paul said to the Corinthian Christians, “… my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord”
(1 Corinthians 15:58).
Rev William McDermott
(recently retired minister of Moneyslane Free Presbyterian Church.)