One of my wife Melody's favorite TV shows is "Clean House" on the Style Network. This lighthearted series features host Niecy Nash and her team of designers who travel throughout Southern California helping people in embarrassingly messy living quarters clean out their clutter and put their homes back together. During the first half of the show, Nash and her team scour their patrons' home looking for items to put out in a yard sale, the profits from which they use to redecorate and makeover the house.
I always find fascinating the reactions of the show's clients when they are asked to part with certain possession so that they may turn a good profit in the yard sale. Sure the treadmill may have been sitting in the back room as a clothes rack for the past five years. But the homeowners vow to use it "one day." Sure the chest may have been sitting in the attic for some two decades collecting nothing but dust. But the homeowners swear they will pull it down and sort through its items any day now. Sure there are a bunch of tools hiding out in the back shed which the owners didn't even know about. But now that they know, these tools are certainly sorely needed. These people, for all the promises that this show makes about the organized and clutter free life "Clean House" can bring them, regularly have a difficult time parting with a bunch of stuff they don't need.
We are a nation of keepers. We keep our memories in photo albums to keep them safe. We keep our sports car in the garage to keep it from getting dirty. We keep our computers up to date to keep them from getting viruses. We keep so many things.
And yet, there are some things - some things which are more precious and valuable than many of the things we so carefully keep - which we do not keep like we should. The father who does not keep the promise to his son to take him to the ballpark because he is too busy. The couple who does not keep their vows to each other and shatters their marriage with infidelity. The businessperson who does not keep his eye on the ball to see a project through to its end. For all the things we do keep, there are just as many things - many important things - which we don't.
Jesus, in John's closing vision in Revelation 22, leaves the apostle with this commission: "Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book." Jesus, it seems, wants John to carefully keep his words.
The Greek word for "keep" is tereo. And this word is used in the New Testament to encourage us to "keep" the important things of God. First and foremost, this word is used to encourage us to keep belieiving God's Word. As the book of Revelation opens, John writes, "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near" (Revelation 1:3). The Greek word for "take to heart" is tereo. Thus, when God speaks in his Word, we should always take it to heart. We should always believe what he says. For his words are words of life. Second, this word is used to encourage us to keep obeying God's commands. Jesus says, "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15). The Greek word for "obey" is tereo. Thus, we are to keep God's commands. We are to walk according to his ways every day. Third, this word is used to encourage us to keep the faith until we finish its course. The apostle Paul, as he is nearing the end of his life, writes, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). Through it all - good times and bad, joyous times and sad - Paul has refused to relinquish his trust and hope in Christ. He has stood firm until the end. He has kept his faith. So should we.
As John's Revelation draws to a close, then, we are called to believe, obey, and stand fast until the end. For this is the Christian life. And with John's vision, we not only receive a commission for this life, but a glimpse into the life of hereafter. Thus, as we wrap up this sometimes confusing, but always important and precious, book, my encouragement to you is simply this: Keep on. Keep on believing. Keep on obeying. Keep on standing firm in your faith. And you will receive the crown of life. I'm sure it will look great on you. Until then, "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen" (verse 21).