Revelation 12:11 They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
These readings were chosen on the basis of the word “love,” searching for them with English Bible software, but the Japanese doesn’t use the word “love” here at all. The word used in Japanese is hard to translate into English, but rather than say, “They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death,” it says. “They did not consider their lives something they would regret losing, all the way to death.” I don’t think that changes the meaning, but it shows the danger of depending on words in one language when you’re preaching in another. There was a discussion of that issue just yesterday in a Facebook group for Missionary Kids. The point of the passage here is a matter of priorities. The believers mentioned in the verse experienced victory precisely because they weren’t focused on victory, but upon their Lord. Everything, even to physical life itself, paled to insignificance in comparison to knowing their Lord, the Lamb of God. It’s exactly as Paul expressed: “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.” (Philippians 3:8-9) We would do well to make that attitude our goal! When we get caught up in temporal victories and losses, we lose sight of the ultimate victory that has already been won for us by Christ on the cross. That’s what it means to overcome “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of [our] testimony.” Our testimony is that Jesus died for us, He rose again, and He is our Lord! When that is our consistent testimony, then our victory is likewise consistent. When we allow things of this world to take precedence in our hearts and lives, then we experience defeats.
Of course, this applies to me as much as it does to anyone else. I’m as prone as anyone to being distracted by things of this world. Like Paul, I need to focus in on knowing Christ, in ever-greater depth and breadth. With Him as my first priority, and really my only priority, I really don’t have to worry about anything else at all. I’m back to Jesus’ instructions to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) If I am doing that fully, then I will hear His instructions as to how to spend my time on this earth, and He will enable me to follow those instructions. The problem is, I don’t yet do that fully! I’ve got to walk in humility, recognizing my weaknesses and receiving His help, both directly and through those around me. Only then will my testimony be consistent and clear.
Father, thank You for this Word. I’m told I didn’t do too well at this yesterday. Help me do better today. Thank You for what You have on the schedule for today. May I be Your agent in every detail, whether the particular activity seems “spiritual” or not, so that Your will may be done on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!