Cares of This Life
As I read this passage I could not help but notice these four words, "cares of this life". What does this mean? Really, it can mean a whole mess of things. Our worries over petty things like popularity and having the right clothes. We can get caught up in enjoying this life and spending all our time on ourselves rather than God. But the main idea is that we start desiring to "build our own kingdom here on earth" instead of building God's kingdom for eternity.
The church of Sardis seemed to be alive, no doubt, because they had much "ministry" going on. But was this ministry in accordance to man's will rather than God's will? Was this ministry drawing people and growing people into a closer relationship with Jesus; or was this ministry self-orientated, causing them to be just like any other social club in the city? The sad thing is that they believed they were doing right, maybe even wrote books on "How To Build a Church", or "How To Make a Profit as a Non-Profit Organization".
I remember being told of a main pastor from China who came to visit the churches of the US. When asked what he thought about the church of America he said, "It is amazing what man can do without the Holy Spirit". Hopefully we realize this wasn't a compliment.