Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name (Rev 3:8).
Many of the believers who read Truth and Tidings are from very small, isolated assemblies. For them, conferences, when it is possible for them to attend, are like refreshing oases. Some of these believers are sisters who have devoted their life to pray for and strengthen a local testimony. Some are brethren on whom the full weight of responsibility falls. Although they tire of hearing their own voice, there is only a handful able to share the praying, teaching, and preaching. At the breaking of bread each week, there may be only one or two other brethren to take part in worship. The occasional visit of a believer from another assembly is lauded by the handful with whom he is visiting as a breath of fresh air. The resident brethren may begin to wonder if their participations are, by way of contrast, stale exhalations. The enemy of God and of His people is quick to whisper to such a believer that he is wasting his life by pouring his efforts into an insignificant company of saints. Particularly if it is coupled with a promotion at work or increased pay, a move to another location, where there is a larger assembly, becomes increasingly more attractive as time goes on. After all, who is there to appreciate the constant, unyielding pressure to prepare for each meeting? Who notes or values the humble devotion expressed by faithful, consistent service in an unglamorous setting? Who is there to observe the loyal attendance of that sister or brother?
Revelation 3 supplies the answer – The Lord Jesus! His words, Thou hast a little strength must have come with tremendous force and cheer to the Philadelphia saints. He saw! He knew! He appreciated and took pleasure in their struggling efforts to honor His name.
It is questionable whether any of the seven assemblies mentioned in Rev 2 and 3 registered very strongly on the religious radar screen of the 1st century. In size and impact, the ubiquitous presence of graven idols, pagan temples, and heathen worshippers dwarfed the assemblies gathered to the name of the Lord Jesus. But heavens interest was directed toward those assemblies, despite their size or impact. The Lord took pleasure in His peoples devotion to His Word and name, irrespective of their weakness.
While we should never glory in having only a little strength, even that little strength can result in glory for God if it casts the assembly on God for its preservation and blessing. Although Samson may be able to go into battle without a prayer (Judges 15:15), King Asa, well aware of his weakness, cries to God for help (2 Chr 14:11). The comparatively small remnant that returned to build the house for God might well have been discouraged by its weakness and insignificance. However, the Lord reminded His people that He was taking pleasure in their efforts and being glorified by their service. In the face of their little strength, He exhorted them again and again, Be strong be strong be strong (Haggai 2:4).
Society has conditioned us to think that success and numbers are the vital things. But whether the company is small or large, whether the level of our strength is Samsonian or Asa-like, our responsibility – and privilege – is to keep our eye on Him, endeavoring to please Him, obey His Word and honor His name, until we join in heaven that massive, glorious, great congregation to honor His name forever.