“I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.” (Revelation 2:19)
Seven times in the letters to His seven representative churches in Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus says: “I know thy works” (Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15). Whatever we are doing—or not doing—He knows!
Sometimes such knowledge can bring—or at least should bring—great consternation. He knows, for example, all our hypocrisies: “I know . . . that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Revelation 3:1). He also knows when our outward display of religious activity masks a real heart-attitude of compromising self-interest. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot” (Revelation 3:15).
Yet He also knows when our service is genuine and our testimony is God-glorifying and faithful. “I know . . . thy labour, and thy patience. . . . I know . . . thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith” (Revelation 2:2, 13).
Of these seven testimonies of His knowledge, the central one is in our text. He knows when we really love Him, for the “charity” mentioned is nothing less than agape, or unselfish love. He knows all about our sincere “service” and true “faith” in His Word, as well as our “patience” of hope.
Perhaps the most precious of His assurances, however, is that to the suffering church at Smyrna. “I know thy . . . tribulation, and poverty” (Revelation 2:9). When He says that He knows, the sense is that He understands, because He has been through it all Himself. Therefore, “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). HMM